Kathmandu: Former Prime Minister and Chair of main opposition CPN-UML has commented on several aspects of the government’s foreign policy in what appears to be his first deliberations on Nepal’s foreign policy and diplomacy after his removal from executive seat in 2021.
Oli was particularly critical of India and the foreign policy conduct of the Maoist Center-Nepali Congress coalition government, while also broadly commenting on Nepal’s past and present conducts.
Oli was addressing an interaction program organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the UML in Kathmandu on Saturday.
Oli spoke of Nepal’s geostrategic situation and geopolitical vulneberaities. We lie between the countries which are not comparable to us in any respects, in respect of economy, size, military power, population and geography, he said, adding that Nepal therefore needs to remain non-aligned.
Geopolitical realities may have changed, the contexts may have changed but the policy of neutrality and non-alignment remain the same for Nepal, he said. “We don’t need to change this policy of neutrality and non-alignment. Our position of neutrality is right and just,” the UML supremo said.
In that context, Oli also took exception to the decision of the Nepali Congress-Maoist Center coalition government to vote against the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
“Nepal got dragged into Russia-Ukraine hostility, when it took Ukraine’s support,” he said. Insinuating that Nepal’s position on Russia-Ukraine war was not just Oli said that Nepal should have only advocated for peace. “We are a nation that is in favor of peace. Neutrality is our strength, amity with all and enmity with none is our principle,” he said. “You cannot douse the fire by adding fuel to it,” he said of the Ukraine-Russian war. “If there is conflict anywhere, our position should be that of neutrality.”
Oli also spoke of the risks of global security alliances and said that Nepal should not get into any kind of security alliance and military alliance. “Not at all, not in any circumstances,” he said. “We will never allow any foreign military camps to be stationed here in Nepal.”
On the occasion, Oli advocated maintaining balanced relations with neighbors and foreign powers. We do not bow down to any power, we do not become unnecessarily close to one power and unreasonably distant from another power, he said.
Recalling his days as the Prime Minister during the 2015/16 Indian blockade, he said that Nepal might have to face a similar situation if the country is not economically strong. “India blockaded Nepal four times,” he said. “But we have not blockaded India even once,” he said in jest, while adding that Nepal needs to be self-reliant on basic things so as not to be affected by blockade again.
Oli was of the view that with the position of non-alignment and neutrality, Nepal’s sovereignty will be safe. “Our ancestors saved this country with valor and bravery, by fighting with adversities,” he said. “We can save the country today by taking a firm stand on our policy of neutrality and non-alignment and thus safeguarding our national interests.”
“Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura are our lands. India should stop claiming it as theirs,” said Oli. “Let’s discuss, let’s negotiate on the basis of facts and evidence, let’s talk.”
On the occasion, Oli also spoke of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura stretch of land which was incorporated within the Nepali map and endorsed unanimously by Nepal parliament in June 2020. Oli was the prime minister at the time.
While saying that Kalapani region belongs to Nepal and that India should give up its claim over that territory, Oli said the issue can be resolved through talks and negotiations. “Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura are our lands. India should stop claiming it as theirs,” said Oli. “Let’s discuss, let’s negotiate on the basis of facts and evidence, let’s talk.”