Statement by Ambassador Mr. Ghanshyam Bhandari at the Programme Organized to Observe the National Day of Nepal
Embassy of Nepal, Dhaka, 20 September 2023
Chief Guest of Today’s Programme Hon. State Minister for Water Resources His Excellency Mr. Zaheed Farooque
Hon. Members of Parliament,
Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Heads of Mission,
Officials of the Government of Bangladesh
Fellow Nepali Nationals Living in Bangladesh,
Friends from Media, and
Namaste, As-salamu Alaykum, Subho Sandhya, and Good Evening!
Welcome to the celebration of the National Day and Constitution Day of Nepal!
I extend my warm greetings and profound gratitude for your presence this evening.
My friends tell me that good national day statements must be concise and to the point. Hence, I will just try to keep my statement short.
As you know, Nepal is one of the oldest nations in the world. But the national day we are celebrating today dates back to 2015, when the constitution of Nepal was promulgated by people’s elected representatives.
Therefore, back home and across the world, Nepali people observe this day to mark the moment we settled the political issues and institutionalized democratic gains with new federal republican set-up at the core.
On this day, we celebrate the principles such as equality, social inclusion, justice, and proportional representation that underpin our constitution.
We renew the national resolve to build a peaceful, prosperous, and inclusive Nepali society.
The roots of Nepal-Bangladesh relations can be traced in times predating Bangladesh’s Liberation War and Nepal’s subsequent recognition of Bangladesh as an independent country.
Even back then, our societies and communities were closely connected.
After the establishment of formal diplomatic ties in 1972, our relationship has grown steadily.
The foundation of the relationship between our two countries is anchored:
- In the similar languages we speak, similar foods we eat, similar traditions and customs we follow,
- In the strong links at political, institutional, military, business, and cultural levels, and
- In our common values of equality, mutual respect, and cooperation, as well as the shared vision of development and prosperity.
Over the years, both Nepal and Bangladesh have made significant strides on multiple fronts – on socio-economic development, on empowerment of the disadvantaged communities, and on the overall delivery on the needs of our people.
We are happy to see Bangladesh achieve remarkable socio-economic progress under the leadership of Hon. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
As we look to the next fifty years and beyond, we must ensure that the promise and prospects of our collective strengths are realized for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
It is not least in this light, our efforts continue to gather more strength in some pertinent areas.
First, bilateral trade and investment connections between Nepal and Bangladesh are growing but remain at the modest level.
The signing of the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) in 2019, reopening of the Banglabandha land port in December 2022 for Nepali yarn entering Bangladesh, and the increasing collaboration between premier chambers of our countries FNCCI and FBCCI provide further avenues for expansion of economic cooperation.
We are intensifying our efforts to enhance trade and investment linkages.
Second, the agenda of hydroelectricity trade between our two countries has been on the table for some time.
Of course, we have made some progress.
Our two governments have agreed to start power trade at the earliest.
An agreement among Nepal, Bangladesh and India is being finalized, which will facilitate the first trilateral power transaction of upto 40 MW from Nepal to Bangladesh.
It is just a symbolic step in terms of volume. But this will be an important milestone to kickstart a new drive for our bilateral energy cooperation. It will also be a stepping stone in our efforts to ensure a transition to clean energy solutions.
Third, connectivity and people-to-people contacts are the beating heart of any bilateral relationship.
Currently, two airlines – Biman Bangladesh and Himalaya Airlines – are operating 11 direct flights per week between Kathmandu and Dhaka.
Over 26,000 Bangladeshi people visit Nepal every year.
About 3000 Nepali students are pursuing higher education in Bangladesh, especially in the medical field.
And, we are effortful to build on these links to consolidate the connection between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal, between hills and plains, and between markets and minds.
Finally, our two countries have close collaboration at regional and multilateral forums.
As the two major proponents of SAARC, BIMSTEC and BBIN processes, we continue to advance the agenda of regional and sub-regional cooperation.
Currently, Bangladesh and Nepal are the first two largest troops and police contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations.
We are both set to graduate from the Least Developed Country (LDC) category by 2026.
Graduation is an important development milestone for both of our countries. So, ensuring a smooth, sustainable, and irreversible graduation is our common priority.
Our two countries also work closely around SDGs, LDCs matters, climate change, south-south cooperation, digital divide, and many more.
We must realize that the closer the people are, the higher the expectations will be, and more impatient the people can get quickly.
We must, therefore, promote economic cooperation as the centerpiece of our bilateral relations.
সম্মানিত অতিথিবৃন্দ ও প্রিয় সুধীমন্ডলী,
হিমালয় থেকে বঙ্গোপসাগর পর্যন্ত প্রবহমান নদী গুলোর মতো নেপাল ও বাংলাদেশের মধ্যে প্রাকৃতিক যোগসূত্র রয়েছে।
বাণিজ্য, পর্যটন, সংযোগ, জ্বালানি এবং শিক্ষা ক্ষেত্রে সহযোগিতা আমাদের দুই দেশ এবং জনগণকে আরো কাছাকাছি নিয়ে এসেছে।
এখন, অর্থনেতিক যোগসূত্রের উপর অধিক গুরুত্ব দিয়ে এই সম্পর্ককে সুসংহত করা আমাদের দায়িত্ব।
অতএব, আসুন আমাদের দুই দেশ এবং জনগণকে আরো কাছাকাছি আনতে একসঙ্গে কাজ করি।
নেপাল- বাংলাদেশ সম্পর্ক চিরজীবী হোক।
আপনাদের সবাইকে অনেক অনেক ধন্যবাদ।
Thank you very much for your attention.