Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali
at a Function Jointly Hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
the French Embassy to Mark the 70th Anniversary of the
Establishment of Nepal-France Relations
Army Officers’ Club, Bhadrakali, Kathmandu, 20 April 2019
Ambassador Francois-Xavier Leger,
Distinguished Guests, and
Ladies and Gentlemen
Namaste, bonjour !
It was five days ago, on 15 April, a ravaging fire caused damage to the Notre-Dame Cathedral, a monument of cultural, architectural and historic importance not only for France and French people but also for the entire world. Words cannot describe the pain of watching the spire of one of the world’s great heritages collapse due to the terrible fire. On behalf of the people and Government of Nepal, I extend my sincere sympathies and solidarities to the French Government and people as they try to cope with this tragedy.
First of all, I would like to thank Ambassador Leger for taking the initiative to organize this event and inviting me to participate in it. I feel honoured to speak a few words in front of you all.
I thank the colleagues both at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Embassy for their contributions in the lead up to today’s programme jointly hosted to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Nepal-France relations. Let me also acknowledge the support of Nepal Army, especially their kind gesture to provide this venue for free.
I would also like to thank you all, our distinguished guests, for joining us today. I congratulate and extend my best wishes to all of you on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of our historic relationship.
France was the fourth country with which Nepal established its diplomatic relations. It speaks volumes about the importance Nepal attaches to its relations with France.
Yes, Nepal and France are far apart in terms of geographical distance. But, our similarities and common interests are much nobler and higher than this distance. Our countries are home to rich civilizations, cultures and traditions. Mountainous topography and mountaineering culture are deeply linked to our identity. Values of liberty, equality, peace and coexistence underpin our political, social and economic development efforts.
Over the last seven decades, a lot has happened both in Nepal and France. France has achieved a remarkable level of socio-economic development on the foundations of peace, stability and democratic governance. Similarly, in Nepal, though we are yet to achieve the desired level of economic development, our political gains have been both far-reaching and exemplary.
We continue to remain inspired by the development and progress of France. At a time when we have prioritized the socio-economic development of the country on the backdrop of political achievements, we look up to France for a stronger bilateral collaboration and cooperation. In particular, our priority is to enhance economic partnership in the areas of foreign direct investment, trade expansion, tourism linkages and technology transfer.
Over the years, Nepal-France relations have evolved into a cooperative and dynamic partnership encompassing political, economic, developmental, cultural and educational spheres.
France is one of the development partners and a reliable friend of Nepal. We remain thankful to the Government and people of France for their support and contribution to Nepal’s economic and social development.
Recently, there has been much progress in terms of our bilateral cooperation. Recent visits by Nepal’s Foreign Secretary to France and French Secretary-General to Nepal have provided a fresh momentum in our relations. Our goodwill Ambassador’s role has also been instrumental towards this end.
I am aware of the significant interests of French companies to invest in Nepal’s infrastructure. This is very much important as we strive to attract foreign direct investment vis-à-vis our motto of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’.
France is one of the largest trading partners of Nepal. France stands at the fourth and eighth ranks respectively in the list of Nepal’s import and export destination countries. Our trade linkages have been growing, albeit gradually, also in the context of the preferential access granted to Nepali products by the European Union.
We welcome over 30,000 French tourists to Nepal every year. As we observe 2020 as ‘Visit Nepal Year’, we hope French people will continue to make Nepal their favoured destination and that this number will increase.
Nepal and France also work constructively in multilateral forums including at the United Nations. We believe that France has a crucial role to play, not only in European affairs but also in global issues, in promoting a rules-based international system, preserving multi-lateralism, and pursuing the spirit of Paris Climate Accord.
All these instances we have before us demonstrate an excellent friendship built on the ideals of cooperation, mutual interests and respect towards each other. The statistical figures of our partnership may be small but they provide a strong foundation to work further- as the French proverb rightly says: Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid, which means, ‘little by little, the bird makes its nest’.
Hence, as we observe this important milestone of the 70th anniversary with various programmes, both in Nepal and France, we must not lose sight of the opportunity to consolidate the partnership in all spheres of our relations. Our aim must be to make it a take off point for an enhanced level of engagements with special focus on economic relations.
I believe that, we must utilize this year to bring out the best of our bilateral relations. This may be possible including through the following measures and initiatives:
First and foremost, high-level political contacts are extremely important in strengthening any diplomatic relationship. It has been quite long time since we had an exchange of high-level visits at the political level. The 70th anniversary may be the right occasion for this.
Second, substantive economic component is very much critical for enhancing a bilateral partnership. Further economic engagements in the mutually beneficial areas will be in the interests of both countries.
Third, cultural contacts and people-to-people relations constitute another aspect of our relations. This is nurtured by mutual love and goodwill prevalent at the grassroots level of our societies. Our partnership can prosper only when the public, including the diaspora communities, get engaged.
And, finally, our collaboration at multilateral forums for the global cause of peace, security and development must be strengthened. Given France’s key role in global affairs, we must strengthen our cooperation especially in the areas of development, climate change and peacekeeping, among others.
To conclude, an anniversary is indeed a time to reflect on the contributions, achievements and the past experiences, which make the relationship unique and beautiful. However, we must also remember that an anniversary is not an end-point. It is also an occasion to make a resolve to grow and develop further.
We all know, a single individual alone cannot whistle a symphony. A whole orchestra is needed to play it. For the growth and development of Nepal-France relationship as well, all stakeholders including political leaders, diplomats, civil servants, business communities, civil societies, students, media persons and most importantly the common people have their part to play. Let’s us work collectively towards enhancing the bonds of this long and historic friendship.
I thank you for your attention. And, once again, congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Nepal-France relations!