-  Friday 15 January 2021

France likely to increase its interests in Republican Nepal

 -  Keshav Raj Jha

It is well understood that the power equation in world affairs is no longer remain the same, as it used to be during the cold war era. Due to this very fact that many ‘power’ countries have been losing their influence over countries, once regarded and understood to be under their domain; which in no longer remain a guarded secret. It was a big hope, not only for the French People but for most of the countries of former non aligned bloc that President Nicholas Sarkozy will provide a dynamic leadership to France and will bring a sort of balance to unipolarity-driven world affairs. But due to the changing power dynamics in the world as well as internal challenges, France is still trailing to maintain its position as a power center of the world.

During President Mitterrand era, France was criticized for many ills in French society but the role France played in maintaining peace and world order during that time was commended by the world. Especially Africa and the Arab world had a strong partner in Europe and the economic situation was also in its stronger footing.

Let’s take a burning example of Libya. Until the regime change in France, Britain had very little role to play in Libya and extract benefits from the resources there. But once the regime changed in France, it came as a bonanza for Britain. British Prime Minister Tony Blair started striking deals with Libya one after another, right from economic reforms to the security sector. A substantial loss for France. The way France took a lead in attacking Libya under NATO auspices lately, it was nothing more than a hope to regain its influence in Libya. Otherwise what democracy and dictatorship failed in Libya? Any government and all the government try to extinguish fire of insurgency in the country with all the available and possible means.

It is no longer a secret in international affairs and diplomacy that Iraq was invaded by the US not because Saddam Hussain was a wrong leader for the Iraqi people but he wanted to trade Iraqi oil in Euro instead of US dollars. French position those days is understandable as the cold war was just over and the world needed to come out of the vacuum. But can France defend her leadership to attack on Libya? The French people might decide soon. The main reason for Western attack on Libya was Gaddaffi’s attempt to circulate golden coins as Libyan currency in the world market; which would have severe impact on US dollars or the British Sterling Pound, though French would have got a chance to strengthen their Franc that lost currency battle with Dollars long ago.

How France would remain a silent spectator once Italian economy begin suffering due to Libyan crisis as Italy happened to consume 33 percent of Libyan oil and gas production? The domino impact is yet to be seen from French expedition this time.

Let’s talk about French position in South Asia.

France joined the US expedition in Afghanistan; what French got out of it will be evaluated in future by historians and French people for sure. But French commitment of 4000 troops to support US’s failed adventure in Afghanistan will be bone in neck for President Sarkozy when he will be seeking re-election next year. The people in the US and France both may realize that the expeditions of the political parties abroad meant nothing but an attempt to cling on to power; and both the parties and their leaders could be swept aside. Hours after US President Barrack Obama announced a phased pullout of 100,000 troops from Afghanistan, French President issued a statement declaring a similar withdrawal in a calendar comparable to the Americans in a proportional manner. Such move may neither be helpful to assert France’s role in global politics nor to convince the French people in general.

For Nepal, we may see growing interest of France in the coming months and years, as the US interest is growing in this sulking and sinking nation; where amateurs have entered into the devil’s workshop.

There is no doubt that the French people love the natural beauty of Nepal and a sizeable number of tourists from France have been visiting Nepal even in most difficult times. From time to time we also hear words of concern from the French envoys to Nepal about the unstable political situation; some are even seen going out of the way of established diplomatic protocols and practices and showing undiplomatic manners and creating jitters in Nepali community; Nepali people are very cordial to the French yet.

Is it only the trekkers and climbers who would like to make Nepal a destination or it is also of the interest of the French policy makers to give some insight about their policy on this New Republic, that even wanted to follow the French model of political system by bidding farewell to the long practiced West-minster model, is yet to be seen. A lot needs to be done from Nepali policy makers’ side, most importantly; the politicians must have will and have to ponder over a lot.

After France started playing bigger role in the European Union, it is seen more focused with larger partners of the global economy and economic matters are now being dealt by European Commission, where different players have different tunes to play. The Scandinavians seem to have taken a lead role regarding Nepal’s situation. What is not lost in this big game is long cherished bond of friendship and cooperation between France and Nepal on bilateral front. As a result, French Embassy remained intact in Kathmandu despite a lot of credible rumors that it will be closing down. Thanks to the relentless efforts of Nepali diplomats and Nepal-France business community, French Culture Centre in Kathmandu Miason du Nepal (Nepal House in France) for holding the situation from deteriorating further.

There is no doubt that Nepali side is seen weak to attract French investment despite knowing that a lot of big French Companies are based in India, and can very well be attracted into Nepal as well. But the political situation in Nepal has not been so congenial to convince the French investors to willingly come here; neither could we deliver the quality products, to which the French population in general are used to.

Long live Nepal-France Friendship.

Keshav Raj Jha
Former Nepal’s Ambassador to France and UNESCO


Other articles by reporter Keshav Raj Jha

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