Nepal-France Relations: Historical Perspectives

<br>KISHAN SINGH DHAMI

Aug. 9, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 05 No.-4 Aug. 05-2011 (Shrawan 20,2068)<BR>

Sixty-two years ago, in 1949, Nepal and France established diplomatic relations during the Rana time. The first French Ambassador to Nepal Levi Daniel presented his credentials to then Rana Prime Minister Mohan Sumsher on April 24, 1949. Daniel was residential ambassador to India. On March 24, 1952, Ostrorog was appointed as the French Ambassador to Nepal and India. Just after establishing diplomatic relations, the French began their first climbing of Annapurna I, taking Nepal’s Himalayas to Europe. In 1950, a French expedition team led by Meoresh Harguog successfully climbed Annapurna I. By climbing the mountain, Harguog disseminated the message in Europe that Nepal is a tourist destination for Europeans.


With the official invitation of French President Charles De Golee, resident French ambassador to India and ambassador to Nepal Daridan came to Nepal. Late King Mahendra and Queen Ratna paid an official visit to France. After this successful visit by Nepal’s King and Queen, the two countries agreed to open residential embassies.  On April 24, 1967, Francois came to Nepal as the first residential French Ambassador. Initially, the French opened their mission in Annapurna Hotel and later the embassy moved to Bishalnagar. In 1968, he helped to establish the French Cultural Center in Kathmandu which is now known as Alliance Française.  The center has more than eight thousand branches all over the world.


In 1971, Toussaint was appointed second French residential ambassador to Nepal. During his period, the current residence of French Ambassador was bought. Then, Max Dr. Tasta and Deloche De Noyelle were appointed French ambassadors to Nepal. During Noyelle’s tenure, French president late Francis Mitterrand paid an official visit to Nepal at the invitation of late King Birendra. The visit was made in 1983. The French president expressed his commitment to continue to support Nepal. Warren was appointed the next French ambassador to Nepal in 1984. Interestingly, most of the French Ambassadors did not stay here for more than two years. Some left even before that. In 1985, Barraaux was appointed as the twelfth French Ambassador to Nepal. During Ambassador Barraaux’s tenure, French Nepal economic cooperation turned into a new era. The French government provided support to extend Kohalpur transmission live and other trade related activities. Air France supported in modernizing Nepal Airlines and Nepal Indosuez Bank was established.


In May 1990, Michel came to Nepal as the French Ambassador. Since Galas worked as a first secretary in French Embassy in Nepal, Galas took many steps to expand Nepal France Relations. He started French School in Nepal, provided Video Camera to Tribhuwan International Airport. Under French Food for Work support, Nepalese temples and many cultural places were renovated and reconstructed. In May 1993, Daniel Dupont came to Nepal as a new French Ambassador along with the invitation of French President to Nepal’s King and King Birendra paid state visit to France. During Daniel Dupont’s tenure, France continued food for work program. Under this program, ancient temples in Panauti were renovated and protected. However, due to political opportunism in Nepal, the French aid was misused and Nepal’s request for cash support chilled economic cooperation between France and the French government withdrew the support.  Then came French Ambassador to Nepal Michel Lummeux, an art lover and a fan of wine. In his tenure, Nepal’s art works were posted in various subways of France while he also introduced French wine to Nepal.


France gradually started to withdraw its support from Nepal. In 1995, then foreign and Deputy Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal visited France. Just after that visit Nepalese Prime Minister Manmohan Adhikari paid an official visit to France. In 2001, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala also paid an official visit to France.


Due to political instability in Nepal, Nepal did not appoint ambassador in France for four years and left the Nepalese mission in the command of the charge d’affaires. Recently, the government’s decision to cancel the airbus deal is another blow in the bilateral relations between the two countries. Had the French company failed to get MRP contract, the relations between the two countries would have further worsened.

 

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