Remarks by Sujata Koirala, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal at a 7th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) on the theme of ‘Security, Peace and Reconciliation in Asia’ in Baku, Azerbaijan on Wednesday November 21 to Saturday, November 24, 2012.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I feel it an honor and privilege to be here amidst this distinguished gathering. I bring with me hearty greetings from my party-Nepali Congress and the people of Nepal to the people of Azerbaijan, government and fellow delegates and their best wishes for the success of the conference.
I am grateful to organizers for inviting me to the seventh General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).
I thank the government of Azerbaijan and its people for their warm hospitality and for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting.
The world attention is on Asia and the Pacific region. The region constitutes about one-third of the world’s land area with more than 50% of the global population. Asia’s vast diversity is our strength. We have immense possibilities for global partnership, development, and leadership. We are happy to note that the fastest growing economies are in Asia. We have to work together to mutually benefit from the vast potentials for development throughout the region. We, in our respective regions, have been striving hard to promote regional cooperation organizations. I strongly feel that regional cooperation could to be made more actions oriented to improve the quality of life of our peoples in the quest towards building a stable and prosperous Asian community.
The founding objectives of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) remain our guidelines. They call for promoting exchanges and cooperation, enhancing mutual understanding and trust, promoting regional cooperation and creating an environment for sustained peace and shared prosperity in the region. These objectives can be realized only with the comprehensive engagement of political parties and people from across the region in the process of building regional cooperation.
In the light of these objectives, the theme chosen for this Assembly ‘ Security, Peace, and Reconciliation’ could not have been more relevant and timely. The theme is reflective of the ground realities in Asia. The three elements are inseparable and remain pre-requisites for the progress and prosperity of any nation. This demands that we move ahead with greater pragmatism and moderation for promoting their viability as we make transition from conflict to peace, and mistrust to trust towards contributing to peace, security and reconciliation for stability, progress, and prosperity.
We are happy to note that ever since its establishment, ICAAP has been able to bring together Asian political parties to exchange views, forge cooperation and share experiences on issues of regional cooperation, discuss the contemporary issues of common concerns, and chart out a path to deepen joint efforts for mutual benefit. As we gather here in the midst of ongoing impacts of the economic and financial crises and host of other challenges including the rise of ethnic nationalism, pervasive poverty, rampant corruption, increasing food and fuel crises, and climate change challenges, there is even a greater urgency to formulate policy measures and use our political wisdom to promote cooperation at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels to confront these challenges and ensure security, peace and stability in countries of the region.
It is our firm belief that political parties, parliaments, and peoples have unique roles in carrying out regional cooperation. With them at the center stage, we can widen, deepen and make the regional cooperation more enduring, efficient, and effective in Asia and promote the living standards of the peoples. In the process, we must not overlook the important roles of the youth and women. Large youth population in the region is a big asset. No country can progress and prosper without the empowerment of women and girls. We must address the root causes of their exclusion and deprivation to bring them from the margins to the mainstream of economic, social and political life. We must strive together to make this happen and make it a true global movement.
To strengthen economic cooperation, we need to expand our mutual trade and investment, increase the flow of technology, build professional human resources, address the problems through consultations, sharing best practices, knowledge, and information. It is our unshakeable faith that with only the comprehensive engagement and involvement of political parties, parliaments, and people, we can strengthen the mechanisms of coordination and cooperation in forging regional cooperation.
We need to maintain close linkages and networks in furthering the voices of moderation, peace, and reconciliation. The use of modern advanced technology can help us better transmit the message of hope and bright future to our people not just at the leadership level, but right down to the grassroots.
Before I conclude, let me briefly touch on the current situation in my country.
After over a decade long armed conflict in Nepal, we entered into a peace process in 2006. Having fought severe forms of authoritarianism in the country several times, my party Nepali Congress strongly believes that it is only the dialogue, engagement and negotiations within the framework of universal democratic principles that can effectively address differences and maintain national unity and reconciliation. We consider laying the solid foundations of institutions based on the principles of democratic pluralism as a precondition to ensure lasting peace, security, reconciliation and development in the country.
Political parties in Nepal remain engaged in this very task. Though, we have tough tasks ahead including the completion of writing a democratic constitution, we are not disheartened. It is the firm belief of my party that national reconciliation and deepening national political engagement have no alternative to establish unity, peace, stability, and democracy in the country. We are committed to establish peace and security in the country, which we consider to be of immense importance to our neighbors, region, and the world at large.
With these words, I once again thank our generous host for their hospitality and wish the conference a success.