Although Nepal's informal contact with France is over 200 years old as France influenced Nepal's rulers even before Nepal-Anglo War of 1814, Nepal and France established formal diplomatic relations 70 years go on 20 April 1949.
As France is the second country after Britain to establish diplomatic ties with Nepal, there is reason for Nepalese to celebrate the 70 years since the establishment of the bilateral relations with a great enthusiasm. The influence of France in Nepal is wide and extensive.
Starting with a Malla king, Pratap Malla, who chose French alphabet to describe him in a sculpture in the 15th century, Rana prime minister Jung Bhadur Rana, who visited France during his visit to England, continued to show respect and love for the French language. The first French scholar Silva Leve, who visited Nepal during Dev Sumsher Rana’s time, mentions how prime minister Dev Sumsher used the French language in a conversation with him.
Even today, the new generation of Nepalese continue to have love and lust for the French language, food, and literature. French language and literature have dominant effects among the young. The number of young Nepalese attending French courses at Alliance Française, Kathmandu, indicates the continuation of the trend. Even the French Embassy has been providing training to Nepal Police officers going for UN peacekeeping operation in Francophone countries in Africa.
Over the decades, Nepal and France have exchanged many high level visits. French President François Mitterrand paid an official visit and late King Birendra and Prime Minister late Girija Prasad Koirala also paid official visits to France.
As Nepal's connection with France is old and historically important, Nepal and France launched commemorative events to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. To give a higher importance to the event, the Secretary-General of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs Maurice Gourdault-Montagne visited Nepal to launch a historic program. He visited Nepal at the invitation of his Nepali counterpart, Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi.
As the first visit of a high-level French official delegation to Nepal, it has a significant meaning. One of the powerful members of European Union and global politics, France has been supporting Nepal in different areas of development.
During his visit Gourdault-Montagne and Bairagi led their respective delegations to Nepal-France bilateral consultations held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singhadurbar, Kathmandu. The two sides discussed bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.
They exchanged views on common values shared by both countries in their foreign policies and actions, as well as their preference for multilateralism and the rule-based international order. They also emphasized the need to look ahead and to address common global challenges, including social inequality, climate change, threat to multilateralism and developmental issues such as trade, investment, tourism, transportation, access to digitalization and environment etc.
From government to government, both the countries have agreed to take the relations to the people’s level. Keeping this in mind, both the countries have agreed to appoint Shrinkhala Khatiwada, Miss Nepal 2018 and Top 12 Contestant of Miss World 2018, as the Goodwill Ambassador for the commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and France.
"Her association with the anniversary is expected to contribute to reaching out to a wider public audience, especially the youth, in conveying a message of goodwill, friendship and cooperation between the two countries," said a joint press release issued on behalf of both the countries.
A special commemorative logo designed by Aayush Kunwar, a student of Ecole Victor Hugo Manjushree Vidyapith, was also unveiled during the press briefing. The French Ambassador to Nepal François-Xavier Leger explained the rationale behind launching the logo and its selection process.
Secretary-General Gourdault-Montagne also paid a courtesy call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali during this visit.
As the 70th anniversary celebrations unveiled, the French Embassy in Kathmandu in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal will be organizing various events throughout 2019 to mark and celebrate the 70th anniversary. The year will showcase many important historical events.