His Excellency, how do you see the relations between Nepal and at present?
Luxembourg and Nepal have been nurturing friendly and close relations for over 4 decades but it is truly in the last 2 decades that our bilateral relations have strengthened, thanks to the many high-level visits and people-to-people contacts. Several NGOs from Luxembourg together with the Government have been providing development and humanitarian assistance in support of the Government of Nepal’s development and reconstruction programs. I am the second Ambassador to be accredited to Nepal and look forward to contribute in deepening our bilateral relations in other areas as well. In this respect, I held very stimulating discussions with the Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Praddep Kumar Gyawali following my accreditation by the Honourable President last 13 August 2019.
Nepal and Luxembourg have established bilateral relations a long time back. What is the state of bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries?
Both countries’ relations have indeed been established on 27 November 1975 and I am very happy that we are going to celebrate next year the 45th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Nepal. They have been marked by numerous royal visits from Luxembourg to Nepal and vice-versa but also ministerial visits in both our countries. Allow me to mention His Royal Highness Prince Guillaume’s visit with a delegation of 100 scouts who did community and humanitarian work and planted trees during a month in 1997 or the State Secretary for Environment, Mr.Eugène Berger’s official visits during his ministerial tenure, the first-ever Luxembourger to have climbed the Mount Everest back in 1992.
Over these last decades, the Luxembourg government and many NGO’s, among others the FNEL Scouts and Guides, ECPAT Luxembourg and “AEIN - Aide à l’Enfance de l’Indeet du Népal” have contributed hugely to the deepening of these relations through sustainable development projects. Please allow me to indicate but a few projects from the construction of the hospital for disabled children in Banepa to the annex of the Dhulikel Hospital or the home for underprivileged women and girls in Pokhara and the protection of children from sexual exploitation in adult entertainment and the tourism sector. These are only a few examples of this very strong friendship and Luxembourg engagement in Nepal for the last decades.
During the disastrous earthquake in 2015, “Emergency.lu”, the Luxembourg mobile, satellite-based, telecommunications platform, with 4 Civil Protection volunteers, provided vital connectivity services in Chautara, Deurali and Charikot. “Emergency.lu”, a public-private partnership between the Government and 3 Luxembourg companies (the world-leading satellite operator SES, the engineering company HITEC and Luxembourg Air Ambulance) also offered free satellite capacity to NetHope and provided internet connectivity to a WFP – World Food Programme field office from 2012 to 2015.
Last year, the Non-Resident Nepali Association organised it’s 11th European Regional meeting in Luxembourg in the presence of the Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, who held a fruitful meeting with the Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, Mr Romain Schneider and met the Minister for Higher Education and Research, Mr Claude Meisch. I am very confident that the 45thAnniversary of our bilateral relations will be the perfect occasion to reflect on the achievements and to further deepen our relations.
What Nepalese market can import from Luxembourg?
Luxembourg, situated in the heart of Europe, a landlocked constitutional Monarchy between France and Germany, whose foundations date back to the 10thCentury, had one of the most important steel industries in Europe in the 19th Century. Today, the world’s largest steel producer Arcelor-Mittal has its global headquarter in Luxembourg after its merger in 2006. Based in Luxembourg since its creation in 1870, the international engineering company Paul Wurth is very active in the region, India, for example, being its 2ndmost important market after the European Union, and is currently involved in a number of ambitious blast furnace construction projects.
The Grand Duchy is well represented on the European and international scene. As a founding member of the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, among others, Luxembourg’s international commitment is reflected notably in the field of development aid and is among the top 5 countries in the world to spend over 1% of its GDP of the United Nations ODA target. Based on the country’s political and social stability, the economy continues to be robust and diversified. A recent survey by INSEAD ranks Luxembourg 2ndout of 128 countries in terms of political stability and safety. The Financial Center is among the top 3 in the European Union with 136 international Banks from 29 different countries, the Nr. 1 Investment Fund center in European and the second in the world with a global market share of 62% in cross-border investment funds, the European leader in international securities listings with 35.000+ listed and tradable securities on the Stock Exchange. Recently, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LGX) created the first and only exchange platform in the world dedicated to sustainable green and social securities: the Luxembourg Green Stock Exchange. Today 61% of all Global Microfinance Fund Assets are domiciled in the Grand Duchy. In recent years a considerable number of FinTech companies, including leading industry players in e-commerce and e-payments, such as PayPal, Amazon, and Rakuten have chosen Luxembourg as their European Headquarter.
Luxembourg has always played a pioneering role in the European media scene. Two Media and Communication Leaders were founded in Luxembourg: Radio Tele Luxembourg, today’s RTL Group whose roots date back to 1924, always broadcasted a unique program in several languages using the same wavelength. The world-leading satellite operator SociétéEuropéenne de Satellites (SES) currently has over 50 satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and 20 in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES focuses on value-added, end-to-end solutions in video and networks.
But allow me to limit myself by saying that from ITC to Manufacturing and Space Resources to the wines from the Luxembourg Moselle, the opportunities are huge on which our countries can cooperate and further strengthen its bonds.
Since you have an Honorary Consul in Nepal for a long time, how do you see its role to enhance people to relations?
Our Honorary Consul in Nepal, Mr. Shree Ram Lamichhane, continues to be very active. He has been nominated when the Luxembourg Consulate was opened in Kathmandu on 23 July 1998. MrLamichhane, the former Chief Commissioner of the Nepalese Scouts and a successful Businessman has been actively engaged in bringing together both our nations and our people over these last 2 decades. In recognition of all his personal contributions, I had the grand honour to award our Honorary Consul with the Order of the Oak Crown on behalf of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Luxembourg during my recent stay in Kathmandu and was particularly happy to thank his wife as well for their continued engagement for Luxembourg in Nepal.
Please allow me to mention as well in this context that the Honorary Consul of Nepal in Luxembourg, Mr Guy Aach, who was also nominated in 1998 was extremely active in promoting Nepal in the Grand Duchy over these last two decades. MrAach’simpressive mandate as Honorary Consul will soon touch to an end and we look forward to cooperating as well with his successor.
Since the European Union has been providing support to Nepal’s various sectors, how Luxembourg helps to enhance these relations?
During my first visit to Kathmandu when I had the honor to present my letters of credence to the Honourable President, I had a highly interesting meeting with the Ambassador of the European Union, with whom we discussed the many projects the European Union is supporting throughout the country. As mentioned earlier, throughout the many projects the Luxembourg Government and the many NGO’s launched in the country over the last two decades, I hear so many positive impressions about these special relations. I, therefore, intend to visit all these projects during my next visits, from the hospitals that have been buildto the beautiful forest that hasbeen planted 20 years ago by the Luxembourg scouts.
As one of the six founding members and one of the 3 capitals of the European Union, Luxembourg consistently ranks among the most convinced Europeans. And the EU is part of our everyday life. It is not without any surprise that Schengen, a small wine-producing town in the far southeastern part of Luxembourg, was chosen by the Government to sign the Schengen Agreement on 14 June 1985. Located in the 3 Border region of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Schengen quickly became the birthplace of a Europe without borders. Next year will be the “Visit Nepal 2020” year, and I am sure that many Luxembourgers will visit your beautiful country, but we also look forward to welcoming many Nepalese in Luxembourg. You’ll hear more from Luxembourg in Nepal on our @LUinNepal pages we created recently.