The Asian continent today continues to astonish, as much by its being the centre stage of a magnitude of continuing evolution over the last 20 years, as by its enduring diversity and contrasts that render all analysis complex and complicated. This region has become a strategic, political and economic challenge, an essential protagonist of exchange and cultural diversity.
In this context, Nepal, with which France established diplomatic relations in 1949, is an example of the questions that these on-going changes provoke while attempting to link modernity to tradition, a broadening outlook to a respect for cultural identity. With its multiethnic, multi-faith society, Nepal is similar to France in that it also advocates a system of development respectful of the values and identities of each citizen. At this crucial period of the democratic evolution of Nepal, France is more than ever at its side as is the ensemble of the countries of the European Union. France actively assists in various areas of its development through its participation in the European Union budget and also via numerous multilateral channels. On the bilateral scheme,scientific cooperation continues to develop, particularly with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Department of Mines and Geology of the Ministry of Industry, enabling young Nepali researchers to train in laboratories in France.
With an intake of more than 2,500 students per year, French language teaching, thanks to the growing activity of the Alliance Française in Kathmandu, plays an essential part in permitting Nepalese youth to acquire jobs particularly in the field of tourism. The annual influx of over 30,000 French tourists to Nepal will certainly contribute to the success of the Nepal Tourism Year 2011.When France celebrates its National Day, I wish to convey a message not only of friendship but also of encouragement to the government and citizens of Nepal whose current challenges, I am convinced, they will be able to overcome successfully in the near future.
(The author is FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO NEPAL. Excerpts of the message delivered on the occasion of the French National Day)