JOINT PRESS RELEASE on 5th Session of the EC-NEPAL Joint Commission (Kathmandu 14 February 2007)
The Fifth Session of the EC-Nepal Joint Commission (JC) was held in Kathmandu on 14 February 2007. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Hira Bahadur THAPA, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal and Mr. James MORAN, Director for Asia of` the Directorate General for External Relations of the European Commission.
The meeting was held in an open and cordial atmosphere. Both sides exchanged substantive views on the latest political situation in Nepal including the on-going peace process. They also discussed various ways and means to further strengthen the EU-Nepal relationship. The opening statements made by the two co-chairmen touched upon a broad range of issues pertaining mainly to the political, economic and social development of Nepal. The need to hold Constituent Assembly election as scheduled in a free and fair manner was underlined. In this context, the GoN’s request for EC electoral assistance was discussed. Both sides noted that the conclusions of the on-going EC exploratory mission would be critical in fielding possible EU election observers to Nepal.
The Nepalese delegation highlighted efforts being made to bring the on-going peace process to its logical conclusion. It also gave an overview of the various steps being taken by the GoN towards achieving the goal of an inclusive and participatory democracy in Nepal.
In response, the EC delegation expressed satisfaction with the way in which the on-going peace process is progressing and expressed confidence that its successful conclusion will help to establish lasting peace and democracy in Nepal. The EC side renewed its readiness to support Nepal’s transition to sustainable peace and democracy.
The Nepalese side informed the EC that the human rights situation in Nepal has markedly improved following the coming into power of the present democratic government. Its renewed commitment to work together with the UN Human Rights bodies including the Kathmandu Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was commended by the EC. Both sides agreed that promoting and protecting human rights is an important factor for development, peace and stability.
As regards of the future cooperation, the EC stated that the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) covering the period from 2007 to 2013 would soon be finalized. It also sought indications from the GoN on the priority areas that could be incorporated in the CSP. It was agreed that future EC cooperation would mainly concentrate on education and peace building. Expressing its appreciation for the EC’s continuous support of Nepal’s development endeavours, the Nepalese side hoped that the level of assistance would increase substantially to enable it to meet the pressing challenges of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration in the post-conflict era. In addition, the GoN requested the EC to join other donors in establishing a Peace Trust Fund. Economic and trade cooperation has also been recognized as a priority sector for EC-Nepal cooperation. The Nepalese side informed that all the procedure leading to the finalisation of the Horizontal Air Services Agreement proposed by EC would be completed soon.
Both sides underscored the importance of an early conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda and renewed their commitment to pursue this matter through bilateral, regional and multi-lateral efforts.
Both sides stressed the need to take stock of the many opportunities offered by the thematic and horizontal programmes for Asia which Nepal is increasingly utilizing. They underlined the need to give adequate publicity to these initiatives.
Both sides exchanged views on the process of regional cooperation including economic integration in South Asia under SAARC. The Nepalese side expressed the belief that the EU’s participation in SAARC as an observer would help enhance EU-SAARC relations.
On the long standing Bhutanese refugees’ issue, both sides underlined the need to resolve it without further delay. The Nepalese side expressed that the lasting solution to the problem lies in the repatriation of all refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour.
It was agreed that the 6th session of the EC-Nepal Joint Commission would be held in Brussels in September 2008. The Joint Commission meets bi-annually, alternately in Kathmandu and Brussels. It is mandated to review the implementation of the cooperation agreement signed between the EC and Nepal in 1995.