Remarks by Hon’ble Sujata Koirala at Asia-Europe Political Forum

Hon. Chairman Jose de Venecia

Hon. Members of AEPF

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is a great pleasure for me to attend the second meeting of Asia-Europe Political Forum. I sincerely appreciate our host for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on the Role of Political Parties in Regional Cooperation and Connectivity at the first working session on Asia-Europe Partnership. We consider this Forum as a strong medium for strengthening relations between political parties and peoples of the two continents.

Hon. Chairman,

Asia and Europe have remained engaged in cooperative partnership both at global and regional levels. With shared commonalities and diversities in interests and cultures, we respect universal values of democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Europe has been the seat of democracy, and at the forefront of pioneering regional integration. We believe this has made itself a region of peace, stability, and prosperity. The region has achieved tangible outcomes amid the ravages of two world wars. People continue to look to Europe with great faith and hold high hopes from cooperation for development with mutual respect and dignity.

Asia, being the seat of the world’s ancient civilizations, incorporates some of the largest, the wealthiest and the poorest countries in the world. Diversity of its cultural heritage has made Asia unique, and unity amid vast diversity its strength. New frameworks for cooperation and dialogue are institutionalizationed in regional cooperation organizations in Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ( ASEAN) South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Economic and Technical Cooperation (BIMSTEC), and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) among others.

We live in an interdependent, interconnected and globalized world. People in every station matter. Their destinies are intertwined. Both of our continents have challenges and opportunities. We need to work in unison to ensure coordination and understanding in fostering global alliances to confront a new generation of challenges whether in trade, development and climate change in the pursuit of common development agenda. Global problems require global solutions whether it is about maintaining international peace and security, countering terrorism and transnational crimes, addressing challenges of climate change or achieving sustainable development. We need to have a level playing field for all, with due respect to their interests and concerns.

Environmental degradation together with climate change arising due to global warming is the greatest challenge of our time for the pursuit of sustainable development. Both our regions have been bearing heavy brunt of natural calamities. Calamities such as earthquakes and floods have caused colossal loss. Adverse and disproportionate consequences of climate change, particularly for least developed countries like Nepal with their least contribution to it, remain unprecedented. We experienced enormous devastation in the wake of recent earthquakes all across South Asia; including that of the Earthquake in Nepal in April 2015.

Addressing this challenge calls for collective preparedness, collective responsiveness and collective collaboration between us. This includes preparedness to prevent the perils of such calamities; responsiveness to deal with destruction of such disasters and, collaboration to mitigate the menace of climate change. In this context, Asia and Europe should come together to collaborate and mobilize international community in the fight against climate change and natural calamities in order to overcome this global challenge for the greater and longer good of global commons.

It is encouraging to note that EU-Asia partnership has grown closer and more comprehensive both at the government and people’s levels. We need to strengthen our networks, consolidate increased exchanges, contacts and interactions and further enhance understanding and trust. Political parties across both continents have significant role to play in the process. They need to work together for exploring further areas of cooperation on matters of our shared interests and concerns and further our partnership.

Hon. Chairman,

Let me briefly take this august audience to South Asia. My country Nepal is the founding member of SAARC and currently the chair of both SAARC and BIMSTEC. SAARC is the largest regional cooperation organization yet it remains the least integrated region despite enormous potentials for development.

We are happy to note that EU as an observer in SAARC remains a very important development partner in the region. Inter-regional mechanisms between SAARC and EU are also at work on democracy, public diplomacy, and promoting inclusive global governance. Areas of cooperation include providing market access and assisting in capacity building among others. Sharing of experiences, lessons learnt, and best practices go a long way in improving the quality of life our people.

Hon. Chairman,

Connectivity is critical to realizing meaningful regional integration and cooperation. Trade, tourism and investment cannot thrive without robust network of transportation infrastructures in terms of rail, road, air or waterways, and energy, telecommunication. Connectivity of minds is equally important to unleash the potentials of our peoples for innovation and shared prosperity. We believe that tangible cooperation in comprehensive connectivity will be a game changer in transforming current business, investment, trade and development landscape in both regions. It is our firm conviction that greater cooperation and meaningful partnership between SAARC and EU will contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Political parties occupy a center stage in displaying political will, and creating a reservoir of trust and understanding for cooperation and partnership for win-win gains.

In conclusion, I am happy to share with this august assembly that after decades of incessant struggles and sacrifices for democracy, people of Nepal have institutionalized democratic gains through the implementation of a new constitution written by people’s representatives and promulgated through constituent assembly in 2015. My party Nepali Congress, now in opposition has been at the forefront of all democratic struggles, and institutionalizing democratic gains through free, fair and inclusive elections. We believe abiding by rules of game in full conformity with constitutionalism paves the way for peace, stability and prosperity with social justice. Nepali Congress plays constructive and responsible role within the Parliament and outside and keeps a close watch on the protection of liberal values and acceleration of development process.

With these words, I thank you for your kind attention.

Thank you.

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