RUSSIA NEPAL: 60 YEARS OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS

Russia and Nepal mark an important date - the 60-th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. They were established on July 20, 1956 in the form of the exchange of notes. On December 27, 1991 Nepal recognized Russia as a successor state of the USSR.

At the same time contacts between representatives of our countries have deeper roots.

The first Russian who visited the Himalayan kingdom was an outstanding orientalist I.P.Minaev. In 1875 he studied local traditions, religions and languages and composed a dictionary of Newari language. Thus firsthand information about the distant Kingdom of Nepal and its people reached Russia. The teaching of Lord Buddha which originated in the ancient times on the soil of Nepal - in Lumbini, - through Tibet and Mongolia spread to Buriyatia, Tuva and Kalmykia regions of contemporary Russia with substantial number of Buddhism followers. Even today one can see ancient manuscripts of Nepal origin in the monasteries and temples of these republics of Russia. Contacts between Buddhist communities of our countries are successfully developing at present. These facts are part of our common historical heritage and reflect multi-confessional nature of the two states.

Although geographically Russia and Nepal are far away from each other mutual gravitation exist between our countries. Throughout the history our bilateral relations have been of traditionally friendly nature and have never been clouded by any contradictions or differences. Russia values peace loving foreign policy of Nepal, its adherence to the principles of Non-Alignment and peaceful coexistence.

Our country provided substantial and free of charge assistance to Nepal in the development of national economy, having constructed in the 60-ies and the 70-es a number of industrial, social and infrastructural facilities. Among them are children hospital, sugar mill, hydro power station, agriculture tools factory, 110 km part of East-West road, etc. In 1987 production was launched on rosin and turpentine manufacturing factory which had been built by the Soviet specialists on compensatory basis.

Delegation exchanges at various levels significantly contributed to strengthening of Russian Nepali friendship. Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet K.E. Voroshilov paid a visit to Nepal in February 1960. In 1958 and in 1971 our country received King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva and in 1976 King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva. In 1981 First Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR V.V.Kuznetsov visited Nepal.

Processes of fundamental transformations which took places in both countries at the turn of millennium could not but affect dynamics of our bilateral ties.

However the meeting of the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation V.V.Putin and Prime-minister of Nepal Mr. M.K.Nepal which was held in October 2010 in Saint-Petersburg within framework of Tiger Summit showed that relations between our countries are not subject to political conjuncture. Exchange of opinions confirmed the existence of common approaches to rapidly changing international situation with the stress on supremacy of international law, central role of the UN and respect for national interests and sovereignty of states. As a result of the meeting mutually beneficial spheres of bilateral cooperation were determined.

During the last few years we witness growing activity of Russian-Nepali interaction in various fields.

Closeness or coincidence of positions on basic international problems allows us to successfully coordinate actions in the UN and other international organizations. There is a mechanism of consultations between ministries of foreign affairs which discuss key issues of bilateral as well as regional agenda. In July 2011 Deputy Prime-minister and minister of foreign affairs of Nepal Mr.U.Yadav paid a working visit to Moscow.

Inter-parliamentary relations are consistently developing delegations of the Council of Federation of Russia visited Nepal in December 2000 and December 2007. In its turn delegation of lawmakers of Upper Chamber of Nepali Parliament paid a visit to Russia in October 2000. In March 2011 members of the State Duma visited Kathmandu for the first time. Preparations are under way for a visit to Moscow of a delegation of Nepali Parliament headed by its Chairperson Mrs. O.G.Magar.

Close working ties exist between our judicial bodies. Between 2006 and 2015 there were regular exchange of visits between Chairman of the Supreme Court of Russia and Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Nepal.

In November 2014 Nepali audience warmly welcomed in Kathmandu participants of the Days of Russian culture. The return event the Days of Nepali culture in Russia is planned to be held in the first half of 2017. This event will become an important moment in celebrating the 60-th anniversary of our diplomatic relations and will definitely be a success with the Russian public.

In July 2015 with active support of Russia Nepal joined Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a dialogue partner. This opens new vistas for our countries interaction in the vast Eurasian region in strengthening of regional security, fight against international terrorism, separatism, extremism and narcotraffic. There are ways and mechanisms of multilateral cooperation in banking and investment spheres, in construction of infrastructural facilities as well as promoting regional connectivity.

In September 2015 Russia welcomed the adoption of new constitution of Nepal and few months earlier provided emergency aid humanitarian assistance in liquidating consequences of devastating earthquake.

Regrettably economic component of Russian Nepali cooperation at present does not correspond to our countries potentials. We can not be satisfied either with the volume of bilateral trade or commodities nomenclature. Lack of direct business links and inadequate knowledge of business communities of Russia and Nepal about each other remains a weak point. The relations in this field should be raised to a qualitatively new level. Special significance acquires establishment of regular contacts between ministries and the other government agencies, banks structures and entrepreneurs organizations of the two countries. A substantial role in achieving these goals can play Nepali Russian chamber of commerce and industry.

There are enough spheres in which our countries could cooperate successfully. Nepali companies can buy from Russia chemical fertilizers, metal wares, transport vehicles. Nepali commodities such as carpets, exclusive sorts of tea, medicinal plants, traditional handicrafts etc., will find worthy place in the Russian market.

As a positive example of good commercial practice one can name helicopter business. Russian manufactured MI-17 transport helicopters are popular in Nepal and are used by private companies as well as Nepal Army. Negotiations on acquiring additional number of helicopters are now underway. Russian helicopter machinery as well as our pilots and engineers proved their reliability and high qualifications under hard conditions of the Himalayas.

Russian business circles are ready to assist in implementing of various national energy projects in Nepal, including reconstruction of Panauty hydro-power station which had been built with the help of the Soviet specialists as well as construction of new hydro-power stations and electricity transmission lines. Our companies could take part in exploring mineral deposits on the territory of Nepal, supplying oil products, construction of storage facilities and training Nepali specialists for these purposes.

Nepal attracts a big number of tourists from Russia. Annually around 10 thousand tourists and mountain climbers rise up the famous peaks, travel through sanctuaries of the Himalayan republic and get acquainted with places of historical interest of the country.

Russia was and still remains a prestigious place for Nepali youth to get higher education. Nearly six thousand Nepali students graduated from higher educational establishments of our country. That is why it is not a rare occasion if in the remotest places of Nepal one comes across Russian-speaking Nepali national. Graduates of Russian institutes and universities are united in influential organization Mitra Kunj Friends Club which have its branches throughout the country. Many of its members are prominent business figures, occupy high ranking posts in state bodies, including diplomatic service.

Mitra Kunj proved itself as a reliable partner of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture which had been opened in Kathmandu in 1979 in holding joint events aimed at strengthening of friendship and humanitarian cooperation between our countries. Along with it Association of Nepali-Russian friendship and cultural ties and Nepali- Russian literature society are working for the same purposes.

While celebrating anniversary of diplomatic relations Russia and Nepal have firm grounds to look optimistically at the prospects of mutual partnership. Both countries consistently work on strengthening mutually advantageous cooperation for the benefit of their peoples in the interests of regional peace and stability.