The Russian Ambassador Andrey L. Trofimov
speaks on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary
of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations
between the Russian Federation and the Nepal
(Kathmandu, February 14, 2006)
Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramesh Pandey,
Dear colleagues and friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today and to talk on the Nepal-Russia relation on the eve of the forthcoming in July this year the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Russian Federation and the Nepal.
Friendship between Russia and Nepal has gone through different historical periods. It has been tested by time and deepened over the years. Ever since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Nepal and Russia in 1956 our bilateral ties have been close, friendly and strong. We have enjoyed cordial ties irrespective of political systems and never had any difficulties, problems or conflicts. On the contrary our countries have very close view on many international issues of today, share the basic principles of goodwill and non-interference into internal affairs of sovereign states.
The exchange of delegations at various levels has played an important role in bringing our nations closer together. His Majesty King Mahendra's state visit to the USSR in 1971 and then His Majesty King Birendra's state visit to the USSR in November 1976 were of great significance. In May 1985 His Majesty King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev also paid a 3-day unofficial visit to the Soviet Union while he was His Royal Highness the Prince. During those visits and other visits of high level delegations a number of important intergovernmental agreements were signed between our two countries which opened the way for technical and economic cooperation.
Many projects were completed in Nepal under the Russian assistance including Panauti Hydro project, Janakpur Cigarette Factory, Sugar factory, Agricultural tools factory, Portion of East-West Highway and some other projects. By 1980s our two countries reached the peak of economic cooperation. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 the assistance from the Russian Federation has been decreased, but we did manage to retain our economic presence in certain spheres. For instance, Nepalese air companies extensively use Russian Mi-17 helicopters, which proved to be a reliable means of transportation in Nepal. However we have to admit that the potential of the Nepal-Russia cooperation is still far from being fully exhausted.
During these 50 years a lot has been achieved in the areas of art, culture and education. To this end the Russian Cultural Center in Kathmandu proved to be very helpful. Since its foundation the Center has been instrumental in promoting cultural relations between our two nations. In close cooperation with the Nepal-Russia Cultural Association, the Nepal-Russia Literary Association, Nepal-Russia friendship organization and "Mitra Kunj" (Soviet/Russian universities alumni association) the Center organizes seminars and workshops; talks and round tables on hot contemporary issues relating to our two countries. Various literary and cultural programs, art and book exhibitions, drawing and dance competition - all that serves for strengthening our bonds of friendship and mutual understanding.
In the field of education Russia has become a popular destination for many Nepalese. About 6000 Nepalese students have graduated from Russia's universities, many are still studying. The alumni of Russia's universities are widely engaged in health sector, roads and buildings construction, hydropower projects, science and education. In Russia and abroad they have a reputation of diligent students, competent experts and reliable workers. The "Mitra Kunj" members have also played their constructive part in cementing Nepal-Russia ties.
To make the story short I would like to emphasize that for those 50 years a lot has been achieved in our relations for the benefit of our people. But while reviewing the history of the age-old friendship between our two countries, we should also explore the ways to further promote Russia - Nepal friendly relations in the years to come. We started to move in this direction in October last year, when the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affaires of Nepal Ramesh Pandey paid a visit to Russia at the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affaires of Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov. The visit to Russia took place after 30 years since the last one in 1975. It was very fruitful and successful. In the course of the talks in Moscow the sides affirmed their mutual desire to strengthen the traditionally friendly relation and to expand mutually beneficial cooperation in the political, trade and economic, educational, cultural and other fields.
As I said earlier out two countries have a lot of potential in economic sphere and from my point of view Nepal - Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with its counterpart in Russia could play a significant role in it. Russia can be a new big market for Nepal's products like handicrafts, medicinal herbs, ready-made garments. Organically grown Nepalese tea may also have a good market in Russia as the Russians are among biggest consumers of tea in the world. I may add to it strawberries and flowers which are of great demand in Russia. There are good prospects for Russia to export here helicopters, fertilizers, machine's tools and technical know-how. There is further scope to expand trade, tourism and joint ventures between two countries.
Information also seems to be one of the key factors in promoting trade and business between Nepal and Russia. In order to increase the awareness of existing business opportunities different kinds of industrial and trade exhibitions could be most helpful. Our countries should also continue to exchange visits of the delegations of the industrialists and trading communities in order to reassess each other's economic potential in the context of the present-day reality. The Chambers of Commerce and Industry can also contribute to it by taking a leading role in providing the Nepalese trade and business community with the latest information on Russia's economic potential.
In conclusion I would like to express my gratitude for friendly attitude, cooperation and assistance our embassy receive in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of His Majesty' s Government of Nepal in fulfilment of our duties and for the constructive and friendly nature of the diplomatic dialogue between Moscow and Kathmandu, and more specifically, between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of His Majesty' s Government of Nepal.
Thank you very much.