INTERVIEW : Foreign policy must have economic diplomacy at its core
We must avoid and abhor playing so called India or China cards in a futile attempts to extract leverage with our neighbors.
Dr. Rishi Adhikari
Uninterrupted socio-economic progress of the people through economic diplomacy is at the core of foreign relations.
Mobilization of its natural and other resources such as water, mountains including Mt Everest, birth place of Lord Buddha among others are at the center of Nepal’s foreign policy these days.
The basic tenets of foreign policy of an economically weak and least developed country (LDC) like Nepal does not vary much and will be more or less same with all the countries.....................
The traditional notion of foreign relations and policy has changed remarkably. The diplomatic relations of the country is not limited to the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and nationality. In the present day, it has buckled-up with the economic, security, social, environment, and other interests of the countries. Therefore, the issues such as economic benefits and security come on the front while talking about diplomatic relations of any countries. The governments have also started setting up separate wings at their embassies to look after these issues.
In this backdrop, Yogesh Pokharel of The Rising Nepal caught up with Dr. Rishi Adhikari, Executive Director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) and former Ambassador to Malaysia, to talk about the present day meaning of diplomacy, initiatives of the Government of Nepal, role of IFA, its future activities among others.
The traditional meaning of foreign relations has witnessed a paradigm shift in the recent years. How do you define the present day diplomacy?
At present, the meaning of foreign relations is Nepal’s commitment to internationalism, independence of judgment in the conduct of external relations, and contributions to the maintenance of international peace and security. Nepal is determined to work with its neighbours in the region as well as major powers in the world to defeat the scourge of violent extremism that has taken root there.
Traditionally foreign relations dwelt mainly with political relations and protection and promotion of the core national interests i.e. Nepal's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Now, uninterrupted socio-economic progress of the people is at the core of the foreign relations through economic diplomacy. It has been realized that the conduct of foreign relations is at its best when a country is economically strong with favorable external environment for the pursuit of collective prosperity and the individual welfare of all the Nepalese people. Mobilization of its natural and other resources such as water, mountains including Mt Everest, birth place of Lord Buddha among others are at the center of Nepal’s foreign policy these days.
Do you feel that the government has made its diplomatic relations in line with the present day needs?
Yes, Nepal government especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has realized the importance of changing regional and international interrelations and the internal factors affecting these relationships.
Nepal’s foreign policy in the 21st century will remain rooted in the core values, but it will continuously adapt to the changing external circumstances and the shifting domestic needs. Our vision seeks political stability, economic modernization and regional integration. A stable and secure Asia, Indian Ocean and the Pacific Region is the key of Nepal’s own security and prosperity in the 21st century.
As an advisor to the government and academic institution, don’t you think IFA should play the role of making the diplomacy in line with the present day need?
Yes, IFA realizes that it must play the role of Think Tank on matters of foreign relations by researching on the myriad issues emanating and ever changing within the country, in the region, and internationally. IFA also very seriously suggests that MoFA must review all the documents and proposals from IFA and realize and support the role and potentials of IFA so that it can function more efficiently to a higher level and in turn be in a position to more effectively support MoFA.
What is IFA doing in this regards?
IFA dwells on the most important issues in the relevant field and conducts research, organizes seminars, interactions, talk programmes in the participation of the planners and decision makers from the relevant government, non-government, bi- and multi-lateral, and diplomatic corporations. Our main objective remains to expose and prepare MoFA and other relevant officials in these endeavors so that they remain abreast with the relevant current issues. We publish all the proceedings and share with all relevant organizations in country and internationally. IFA also organizes training and orientation sessions for different officers including ambassadors designated and non-officers to prepare them for the best possible conduct of foreign policy, diplomacy and etiquettes.
What are your plans?
IFA would continue following up with MoFA and Ministry of Finance on all the proposals that were submitted with a view towards strengthening and expanding IFA for its better performance and delivery as world class organization. It will continue to conduct seminars and interactions on relevant topics and publish and share with all the concerned stakeholders for raising awareness. We have conducted more than dozen such programmes and published six books in the past two years and some more are in the pipe lines. It has plans to extend relationships with similar organizations in South Asian Association on Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member and observer countries. IFA also plans to have more effective coordination with MoFA and other relevant organizations for better delivery.
In our context, how do you think Nepal should develop its foreign policy in the present day to take maximum benefits?
Nepal must realize that foreign policies and relations are the extension of the domestic relations and policies. To begin with I must say that we have to keep our house in order. We must exit successfully from this domestic turmoil and never ending so called ‘Transition Phase’. Nepalese planners and decision makers must realize that our foreign policy must have economic diplomacy at its core. We have our own unique resources in regards such as tourism with scenic beauties, water, agriculture, Lord Buddha’s birth place and the majestic mountains including Mt. Everest. No other countries have these. So, we should converge as a nation to harness these to the maximum our friendly countries and especially with the two neighborly economic giants to augment our national development endeavors. Only the rich and prosperous countries can have better diplomacy and say in the world arena and contribute to world peace.
Will foreign policy of Nepal be different with its immediate neighbours and other countries in the world?
The basic tenets of foreign policy of an economically weak and least developed country (LDC) like Nepal does not vary much and will be more or less same with all the countries. However, Nepal being open to India in three sides and with China on one side has a unique geo-physiographic and political position. It has to have more engaging foreign policy with its neighbors especially these being the upcoming world powers and economic giants. We have had excellent relations with both the countries in the past and we should continue maintaining and strengthening these close relations. We must avoid and abhor playing so called India or China cards in a futile attempts to extract leverage with our neighbors.
Uninterrupted socio-economic progress of the people through economic diplomacy is at the core of foreign relations.Mobilization of its natural and other resources such as water, mountains including Mt Everest, birth place of Lord Buddha among others are at the center of Nepal’s foreign policy these days.The basic tenets of foreign policy of an economically weak and least developed country (LDC) like Nepal does not vary much and will be more or less same with all the countries.