Kathmandu,26 Nov 2014: Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has stressed on the transformative potential of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to gain global prominence.
Delivering an inaugural speech in the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Prime Minister Koirala said that the South Asia has strategic geography with democratic profile, growing middle class, young, dynamic hard working rich populations, increasing democratization process, abundance of natural resources, rich biodiversity, economic dynamism and boundless market to that end.
“We meet here at a time when the international environment is rapidly changing and our economies and societies are becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent”, he further said.
The PM further added, “We meet here with new hope and spirit and expectation of our people and take pride in the steady progress towards democratization in the region since the formation of SAARC. The evolution of Indian democracy as a largest, strong and stable situation is inspirational”.
There have been series of progress in the region for legitimate peaceful transfer of power in the region since the last SAARC and the leaders of the respective countries are thankful for these successes, he added.
“While unity is important in the vast diversity and for regional resilience, some challenges ranging from endemic poverty to international terrorism, transnational crimes and trafficking in persons and climate change are constantly staring at us”, he said, adding that they have strongly undermined social cohesion, peace, political stability, democratization and development and it is the high time that we work honestly to confront these challenges,Â make proper use of resources and prove our collective commitment and deliver the promises made to the people in the region.
“Poverty remains an effort to our collective concern. It has been a primary source of several evil. Our collective effort to liberate our people from dehumanizing condition of poverty and hunger would become one of the success stories of the 21st century”, the PM went on saying.
Poverty has multi-dimensional facets and we, therefore, need to push our collective efforts in the critical areas of agriculture, health, sanitation, education and women empowerment. South Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions due to natural disasters caused by climate change and erratic weather patterns; whether it is the melting of Himalayan glaciers, uprising of sea level with devastating floods in the hills and plains and in-between. Our people continue suffer from compound threats posed by climate change and environmental degradation.
Calling for a climate justice mechanism, the Prime Minister said, for adaptation and mitigation measures, no has the privilege to pollute the planet without accountability.
“Despite geographical proximity our region has the lack of connectivity and it has put us far apart”, he said, adding that the volume of intra regional trade and investment is distressingly low. It requires quantum job to ensure expansion of economic linkages, full implementation of SAFTA and further liberalization of trade including trade in services to move towards the goal of achieving South Asian economic booming.
The PM further noted, “We need to build roads, railways, airways, roads, pipe lines to facilitate greater movement of goods, services, capitals and people. These measures, I am confident, would be able to realize the theme of Kathmandu Summit – Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity'”.
“In our region, we have vast pool of young and dynamic population and like in other parts of the world are facing shortage of workers. However, lack of sufficient employment opportunities at home has compelled a sizeable number of youths to other countries for work while remittances of the migrant workers substantially contribute to national income and this have not come without psychological, social and economic thrust”, he further noted.
PM Koirala calls for concrete regional programme for optimum utilization of human resources and added that “We also need a mechanism to work on a common position in international forum on migrant workers for the security, safety and dignity”.
Terrorism is out common enemy and is a growing threat to civilized way of life. South Asia has in the worst victim of terrorism and various forms and manifestations of transitional and transnational crimes including extremisms and religious fundamentalism must, therefore, be combated collectively, he stated.
The Prime Minister also calls upon SARC and honest and effective implementation of SAARC institutional frameworks and active cooperation among our institutions and law institutional agencies, timely sharing of critical information.
“None of the challenges is more pressing in governance than the fight against endemic corruption. It is a growing threat to peace, stability, democracy and development”, he said, “Our people, after decades of assiduous struggle and disproportionate sufferings for a democratic system of governance, deserve accountable, responsible, and transparent and corruption free government”.
He further assured that these values would not be bypassed and undermined in any circumstances.
Talking about Nepal’s latest political development, he said the prime priority before the country is to conclude the peace process that began with the mainstreaming of armed rebel, with constitutional democratic politics, with the promulgation of constitution making through the Constituent Assembly .
“We have made significant strides on key constitutional issues and institutionalizing peace and democracy in the country”, he informed, asserting that the new constitution will embed the spirit of constitutionalism, political pluralism, universal democratic values and rule of law.
We will institutionalize democratic values and paves the foundation for federal democratic republic Nepal, the PM pledged, adding “We firmly believe national reconciliation and national unity based on mutual trust and understanding as enunciated by our late leader BP Koirala, the first people-elected Prime Minister of Nepal, is absolutely necessary to give stability to the nation”.
Leader of the 2006-People’s Movement GP Koirala brought parties with different ideologies together for safeguarding national sovereignty, democracy and human rights. This continues to be our approach to the constitution writing process.
With common commitment from political parties in the country and good will and support from our friends and neighbours in the international community, Nepal is set to embark on the path of peace, stability and democratic system of government
We believe that a peaceful, democratic, stable and prosperous Nepal is a long-term interest of our neighbors in the region and can act as a stabilizing force in the global level.
Time has come for us to decide what kind of SARC we want to pass on to out prosperity. People have decently waited for long. They deserve to be delivered with development dividends from the benefits of enhanced regional cooperation.
Let us address impediments and challenges; let us strengthen our unity; let us demonstrate our solidarity and let us show courage to come out from prejudices; let us make SAARC strong, unified and meaningful for overall development of the South Asia.
The pioneer of peace and son of this region, Gautam Buuddha, taught us and I quote, “Be a lamp to yourself. Be your own confidence; hold to the truth within yourself as the only truth”. Our ground reality is to establish democracy ass the only means to help us harness resources, meet the common goals and deliver our promises to the people of the region.
Finally, the PM said that Nepal is always happy to join hands with all fellow members for the regional integration and is profoundly committed to the objective of the SAARC.
On behalf of the people and government of host country Nepal and on his own, the PM extended sincere appreciation to the President of Republic of the Maldives Abdullah Yameen Abdul for his outstanding leadership of the SAARC process for the past three years.
The Prime Minster also extended his thanks to the SAARC Secretary-General and SAARC Secretariat for their efforts put in preparatory process for the Summit.
Prime Minister Koirala owed his sincere thanks to the observer countries for their engagement and bats for suitable modality to engage them in the SAARC process in a meaningful way.