Remarks by Honorable Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs,at the 72nd Anniversary Program of Nepal Council of World Affairs
(16:30 hrs, 16 February 2020, Kathmandu)
Chief Guest of the Program Vice President Right Honorable Mr. Nanda Bahadur Pun,
President of Nepal Council of World Affairs,
Excellencies and Members from Diplomatic Community,
Representatives from United Nations, Academia, Private Sector and Civil Society,
Friends from the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Namaskar and Good Afternoon to you all.
It is a pleasure and honour to be present in this commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of Nepal Council of World Affairs (NCWA).
While thanking the NCWA for inviting me at this important event, let me begin by congratulating its office bearers and members on this special occasion.
NCWA deserves our appreciation for hosting this annual event almost regularly with fruitful and creative deliberations on pertinent topics of foreign policy and international relations.
Today, I have been asked by the host to speak a few words on Nepal’s foreign relations and the relations with neighboring countries. The topic demands to touch all aspects of Nepal’s external relations, including with the neighbors. I will be brief and try to do justice to this rather comprehensive topic.
The world today is highly connected, complex and inter-dependent. Survival, security and prosperity have been basic elements that every nation state endeavors to maximize. At the same time, creating an international order that is conducive for all to exist, prosper and thrive is important for peace and security. This demands cooperation among nations and their willingness to act collectively to respond to the challenges of global scale. As a dignified member in the comity of nations, Nepal’s efforts have been around this basic character of modern nation states. Safeguarding Nepal’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity; protecting national interest and the interests of its people; and ensuring Nepal’s security and economic wellbeing have been all along the fundamental tenets of Nepal’s international relations.
The Constitution of Nepal has guided basic framework for the conduct of Nepal’s foreign relations. The Constitution also defines core elements of our national interest. Safeguarding of the freedom, sovereignty, territorial integrity, nationalism, independence and dignity of the country, border security, economic wellbeing and prosperity and the rights of the Nepali people are defined as the elements of Nepal’s national interest. Service to the national interests is therefore the primary objective of our foreign policy goal.
The Constitution also directs Nepal to pursue independent foreign policy and adhere to the principles of the UN Charter, non-alignment, Panchsheel, international law and the norms of world peace while conducting foreign relations. In doing so, sovereign equality and dignity of the nation are two critical elements that Nepal attaches great importance.
These guiding principles and our time-tested practice of external relations have enabled us to take independent posture on international issues, articulate our views on merit basis, contribute to the world peace, and nurture friendship with all countries of the world.
Nepal practices ‘amity with all, enmity with none’ and considers international relations should be based on justice, sovereign equality, mutual respect and shared benefit. We want to promote Nepal’s credentials as an open, progressive, and democratic State.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nepal maintains friendly and cooperative relations with both of her immediate neighbours: India and China. Maintaining close and cordial relationship with them is our priority. Our relations have expanded manifold in the sphere of political, economic, cultural, trade, tourism, investment, and people-to-people exchanges. Nepal’s neighbourhood provides opportunities for expanding economic linkages. Regular exchange of high level visits and increasing people to people contacts have further strengthened these relations and deepened the spirit of cooperation. Nepal is conscious of the legitimate interests of our neighbours and will not allow any activity against them in our soil and expect the same understanding from our neighbours.
Nepal and India enjoy historically close and multi-faceted relations. These relations are nurtured by extensive people to people level contacts and socio-cultural bonds that we share for centuries. The exchange of visits by the Prime Ministers of Nepal and India in April and May 2018 has contributed to further enhance mutual trust and consolidate bilateral relations. Our two countries are committed to take forward cooperation and partnership on the basis of equality, mutual trust, respect and mutual benefit. We have agreed to advance cooperation in the core areas of agriculture, railway linkages and inland waterways.
The high level visits in 2018 provided major push for the implementation of ongoing development projects. Some of the flagship projects, such as, Motihari to Amlekhgunj Petroleum Pipeline and Integrated Check Posts in Birgunj and Biratnagar have been completed. Similarly, reconstruction of over 45,000 housing units in Nuwakot and Gorkha districts under the assistance of India have been completed and they were handed over to the residents last month. Construction of remaining housing units is undergoing. Construction of Jay Nagar-Kurtha section of the rail project has been completed. This will ultimately link Bardibas with Jaynagar upon completion of another 34 Km section of the rail line. Detailed project report of Birgunj-Kathmandu electric railway is being prepared this year. Arun III hydro-electricity project under Indian investment is progressing well after the foundation stone of the project was jointly laid by the two Prime Ministers. More projects enhancing production, trade and connectivity are in focus for the future.
You are aware that the Government of Nepal is in communication with the Government of India for a dialogue and settlement of the border issue of Kalapani through diplomatic means. We anticipate mutually convenient dates for the meeting would be worked out soon on this issue. The leaders on both sides have displayed clear vision, commitment and required political will to take the relationship to a higher plane of trust, cooperation and friendship. Prime Minister K P Oli’s vision of ‘prosperous Nepal, happy Nepali’ is unleashing, among others, Nepal’s connectivity potentials with both of our neighbors and building necessary infrastructures for that purpose and goes well with India’s policy of ‘neighborhood first’ and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘sab ka saath sab ka bikash’.
Nepal and China enjoy a long history of close and cordial relationship, which is based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence. Appreciation of each other’s aspirations as well as respect for each other’s concerns and sensitivities has injected an important element of trust in our relationship. Nepal remains fully committed to one China policy. We admire China’s neighbourhood diplomacy guided by the principles of sincerity, amity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness.
During the official visit to China by the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Nepal we agreed to intensify implementation of MoU on cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative to enhance connectivity. The cooperation covers building of dry ports, roads, railways, aviation and communications network within the framework of Trans-Himalaya Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.
We have concluded some important agreements with China in recent years for enhancing multidimensional connectivity between the two countries. The Protocol on implementing Transit Transport Agreement has already been signed that provides Nepal access to the Chinese seaports and dry ports and facilitates the operationalization of the transit transport agreement. This is an important milestone towards Nepal’s transformation from a landlocked country to a land-linked country. Another MoU for building cross-border transmission line with China concluded last year is also equally important in terms of promoting multi-dimensional connectivity. Trans-Himalayan Railway will be a game changer. Our two countries have already signed MoU on Cooperation in the Railway Project. Pre-feasibility study of this project has already been completed and now we are in the process of feasibility study and preparation of detailed project report.
The visit to Nepal by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October last year was a significant milestone in the annals of relations between the two countries. Total twenty agreements were signed during the visit which includes cooperation to enhance road, railway and tunnel connectivity along with increasing Chinese investment in Nepal. The visit provided a momentum for the speedy implementation of the agreements reached in the past and to carry on the decision taken during the visit of the Chinese President.
We consider the growing economic development and strength of our neighbours as an opportunity for us to move ahead with economic development. We admire our neighbours for their continued goodwill and support to our national aspirations and for their cooperation in the development efforts of Nepal.
Nepal’s relations with the countries in the extended neighbourhood are based on mutual respect, goodwill and understanding which we wish to sustain and consolidate. They are further nurtured by growing cultural and traditional ties. Our priority is to further explore, open up and diversify our relations especially in the areas of trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.
Nepal has always maintained cordial and cooperative relations with major powers and development partners. Their goodwill and support to Nepal in her development endeavour has been an enduring aspect of our friendship. We value this cooperation and remain grateful to our development partners for their continued support. We look forward to a greater partnership to promote investment and technology transfer for our economic development and implementation of sustainable development goals. We continue to work towards enriching the substance of cooperation in our bilateral engagements with these countries.
Labour migration has become an important aspect of Nepal’s foreign relations. A large number of Nepali nationals are engaged in foreign employment and the remittances they send home make a sizable share of our economy. Therefore, it becomes Government’s priority to work closely with the countries of destination for safety, security and wellbeing of our migrant workers. In recent years our engagements with the labour destination countries have been more intensive and enriched by exchange of high level visits, and progressively growing trade and investment. We look forward to expand and diversify the scope of cooperation with these countries so as to encompass the broader areas of economic partnership involving trade, investment, tourism and civil aviation, among others.
Nepal continues to engage at regional and sub-regional level for promotion of economic cooperation and connectivity. As the Chair of SAARC, Nepal has done its best for the revival of the stalled SAARC process. We have been actively working at BIMSTEC to promote economic cooperation, connectivity and prosperity. Nepal plays its due role in Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) as its member and in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a dialogue partner.
In the multilateral arena, Nepal supports multilateralism to promote a just and equitable international order in which all States – big or small – fulfill their international obligations in good faith, and enjoy equal opportunity to achieve their aspirations for development and prosperity. We consider that stability and predictability in the global order is essential for maintaining international peace and security. Nepal believes in rule-based and just multilateral system with the United Nations (UN) at its centre. We have abiding faith on the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
As an active member of the UN, Nepal has contributed significantly for over six decades to the maintenance of international peace and security and protection of human rights. Nepal currently stands 5th largest troop and police contributing country in the UN peace operations.
Nepal attaches high importance to the protection and promotion of human rights. Human rights hold the centre stage in our Constitution. We are a State party to twenty-four international human rights-related instruments, including seven out of nine core Conventions. Nepal considers all human rights are universal, in-divisible, inter-dependent, inter-related and mutually reinforcing.
As a member of UN Human Rights Council Nepal has played objective and impartial role in the Council. To further contribute to the work of the Council in an impartial manner and share our achievements in human rights, Nepal has presented candidature for re-election to the Council for the term 2021-23.
Nepal continues to champion the cause of LDCs, LLDCs, South-South and triangular cooperation in the UN and other international forums. Solidarity and cooperation with LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS will continue to characterize our deliberations.
Nepal accords high priority to the issue of climate change. Nepal supports effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and calls for enhanced level of climate finance and technology transfer for the adaptation and mitigation.
As a responsible member in the comity of nations, we intend to contribute to the larger policy discourse on issues of common importance. To this end, Nepal has decided to establish a multi-stakeholder permanent dialogue forum in Kathmandu – ‘Sagarmatha Sambaad’- to deliberate on prominent issues of global, regional and national significance. The first episode of the Sambaad will be held in the first week of April 2020 in Kathmandu under the theme of ‘Climate Change, Mountains and the Future of the Humanity’.
To conclude, let me stress that the ultimate purpose of a country’s foreign policy is to serve its vital national interests and support realization of national aspiration. Nepal’s foreign policy has served her national interest well in the context of changing global and regional dynamics. We remain conscious that fundamentals of our foreign policy comply with the constitutional provisions and our practice remains consistent, coherent and credible.
I thank you all for your attention.