Speeches and Interviews

Interview of the Russian Ambassador Dr. Sergey Velichkin
to the Solidarity Monthly Magazine
(Kathmandu, June 11, 2011)

Your Excellency, what is your first impression after your assignment in Nepal as Ambassador?

My first impressions are those of a person coming to Nepal after a gap of 15 years, which passed since I was here on a private visit essentially as a tourist, though with a background of an Indologist, who had already spent by that time a decade and a half in the neighbouring countries of the Subcontinent. Of course, I was fascinated at the time by landmark historical monuments of Kathmandu and impressed by innate Nepalese hospitality, kindness and peculiarly belonging to the locals open yet dignified demeanor. This fascination is very much back with me now, strengthened as it has been over these six months by respect for determination and patience with which the Nepalese people pursue the complex tasks of completing the peace process and the constitution building despite all challenges of such a speedy and scopeful transformation within historically shortest time.

Your Excellency, how do you assess situation in Nepal after meetings with VIPs of Nepal?

As I already said the situation is by no means devoid of challenges, but it is my meetings with Nepalese leaders both in the Government and the Constituent Assembly of the country, as well as prominent figures in its business community and civil society, - that convince me of good prospects for eventual resolution of problems inherited from the years of acute conflict. While prevailing concerns are quite understandable one can present a strong case in defense of the progress already achieved in building up mutual trust and sense of responsibility before the nation, essential for evolving a difficult consensus between diverse political trends. I believe in wisdom and stamina of the VIPs, who after all have been mandated to fulfill these tasks by the people of the country through democratic elections and have acquired quite substantial experience all of it under the vigilant and critical observation of highly active society and media.

Your Excellency, what are your priorities in Nepal?

My priorities are to contribute to strengthening traditionally friendly relations between Russia and Nepal on the basis of broad convergence of our interests and positions on most topical international and regional issues, to stepping up interaction of both countries proceeding from their adherence to the same values of peace and cooperation, prevalence of international law in evolving just and equitable multipolar world order. I intend to make every effort to implement a solid and mutually beneficial agenda of bilateral cooperation building on our good and glorious record of past achievements and availing of emerging opportunities as limitations imposed by both nations domestic preoccupations are gradually getting surmounted.

Your Excellency, should we expect your pro-active role in Nepal?

Indeed, you may expect me to play pro-active role as for promoting cooperation between our two countries. By that I imply my intention to promptly bring to the attention of the leadership and the public in both Russia and Nepal all feasible opportunities for developing such cooperation in various fields. I have been greatly encouraged by the spirit of the meeting between the Prime-Ministers of Russia and Nepal in Saint-Petersburg on October 24, 2010, which has identified promising fields of cooperation and emphasized mutual interest in promoting exchanges in various sectors.

I am glad that during these first months of my assignment we have initiated a number of concrete projects, among which without doubt the most significant one has proved to be the first ever official visit of the delegation of the State Duma (Lower House) of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to Nepal led by its Vice-Speaker Mr.Valery A.Yazev. It provided a veritable breakthrough in the field of parliamentary exchanges at a highly important juncture of Nepalese constitutional development, thus acquiring an added value of making a relevant contribution to priority efforts by the elected representatives of the Nepalese people to complete successfully their historic task of drafting the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Discussions between the deputies of the two Parliaments were held in an atmosphere of mutual respect and businesslike genuine interest in each others experiences as well as in available opportunities for expanding bilateral cooperation. The visit has enabled the Russian MPs to see for themselves the possibilities Nepal offers in the field of tourism and also, even more importantly, to get the feeling of the problems experienced by the country at present. A special feature of this visit was a sincere and concrete interest shown from the Russian side during the meetings with the leaders of the government and the business community of Nepal towards the prospects of bilateral cooperation in trade and economic fields, including through investment into priority projects here if proper investment conditions according to accepted international standards were created for that. In a follow-up of the visit further contacts between the two sides have been envisaged which are currently at the final stages of preparations by the bodies concerned.

Your Excellency, Nepal is celebrating Tourism Year 2011. How Nepal and Russia can help each other in tourism sector?

Indeed the increasing number of Russian tourists coming to this country is one of the encouraging characteristics of our present day relations. According to the statistical data quoted recently by the official representatives here last year it increased by 43% reaching almost nine thousand people in absolute figures. I consider this very promising against the background of a non-availability of direct air connections between our two countries situated as they are rather far from each other, and a next to non-existent tourist promotion publicity campaign regarding Nepal in Russia.

In view of this what is required is obviously to fill in both voids: to work for the restoration of the direct air flight previously operating between Moscow and Kathmandu as well as to start advertising seriously uncomparable and inimitable attractions of Nepal in the Russian Federation. I would like to bring to the attention of Nepalese tourist agencies some helpful facts regarding the typical Russian tourists in Nepal: there are many in my country with the specialized knowledge and training required for mountaineering, high altitude trekking and other special sports practiced here (like paragliding, etc), who would gladly come here if they were informed about the opportunities available in those fields. On the other hand, there is widespread interest among some sections of the Russian public in oriental spiritual practices, ancient crafts and architecture, offered by Nepal in abundance.

Let me note that Russian tourists as a rule are rather undemanding and quite prepared to bear with simple boarding and lodging facilities, sometimes bordering on plain austerity. However that doesnt mean that getting tourists from Russia doesnt require improvement in the general state of sanitary conditions and infrastructure of your grand and hospital capital city, which is a gateway as well as a show-case of Nepal, any less than for the sake of expanding tourist traffic from other countries as very often suggested by knowledgeable experts in the media here. I can also only agree with those, who insist that the establishment of tourism as a major national industry in Nepal is only possible if the domestic situation here becomes solidly stabilized in broad public perception worldwide.

Your Excellency, what is your specific message to our readers?

On the occasion of the Day of Russia I would like to extend my congratulation to all our numerous friends among the readership of the Solidarity Monthly, which as I know includes some of those who graduated from Soviet/Russia institutes of higher learning. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to them for their feelings of friendship and gestures of support the Russian Embassy in Nepal has invariably received throughout the history of our diplomatic relations. It is in no small measure due to these feelings of mutual sympathy and understanding, which have evolved over the half a century of our cooperation and got deeply rooted among various strata of the Nepalese people, that we have been able despite the challenges of domestic transition in both the countries to preserve and strengthen the spirit of our interaction in the interests of world and regional peace and stability and for the benefit of both nations.

I wish the friendly people of the Himalayan Republic early resolution of complicated problems of building democratic statehood the country is coping with at this historic juncture and every success in establishing foundations for the future prosperous and stable independent Nepal. I am convinced that together we will sooner achieve more substantial progress in the establishment of a new more just and equitable world order essential for peace and well-being of mankind