A New Era in Sri Lanka and Nepal Relations: Deepening Historic Ties
By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor, The Diplomatic Society & Manoj Dhakal
Over the past few decades the international solidarity between Sri Lanka and Nepal has grown significantly and has continued to evolve throughout the partnership. If we trace the history of formal and modern diplomatic relations between the two nations it is right after eight years of Sri Lankan independence from British rule and after seven years of Nepal’s freedom from the dynasty based Rana regime in 1950 that both countries tied a friendship knot in 1957. High level visits have become a norm since then. Late King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah initiated the high level visits to Sri Lanka. The links between the countries are being significantly promoted through the high level visits undertaken by the leaders of the two countries since 1957. This made the relations ever friendly and sees the possibility of mutual cooperation between the two nations in trade, economy, education, tourism, and in technology. Nepal has a Sri Lankan Residency in Kathmandu since 1993 and Sri Lanka also has Nepal’s Honorary Consulate General in Colombo since 1975. Later, the Embassy was established in 1995.
Commemorative Postage Stamp on issued by both nations to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Nepal
Two South Asian countries, Sri Lanka and Nepal, make the two poles in the region, one on the mountain and the latter on the ocean. . The two countries share mutual values, and our common history dates back to ancient times. This made the relations ever friendly and sees the possibility of mutual cooperation between two countries. India bridges the region between the two nations. Nepal is famous for its extraordinary scenic beauty and salubrious climate and is known as “the Land of Paradise”. Nepal, with its beautiful landscapes, has long been known the world over for its majestic Everest Mountain, the highest mountain peak on the planet, Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Gautama Buddha and for the world renowned kukri-wielding Gorkah warriors who are reputed for winning many battles.
The Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal (Image by Srimal Fernando)
The city of Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is located in the south-western side of the country. According to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Sri Lanka falls in third position for the tourist arrival record, after India and China and figures show that 62,420 Sri Lankan tourists arrived in Nepal in the year 2012 mainly to pay homage to Lord Gautam Buddha’s birthplace in Lumbini.
Nepal and Sri Lanka has many regional challenges, both political and economic. Since the early 1980s, Sri Lanka and Nepal has been pioneers in regional integration. Strong support has been given by both nations to strengthen South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in South Asia. The SAARC Secretariat is based in Nepal. SAARC Cultural Centre, as part of its mandate in promoting cultural diversity in South Asia, was set up in Colombo. Together, in a bid to promote business collaborations between the two countries, Nepal and Sri Lanka agreed to establish a joint business council in 2002. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka and the Confederation of Nepalese Industries to formalize the partnership between the two organisations on 31 March 2003.
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka (L) and Tea Cultivation in the
Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (Images by Srimal Fernando)
Following the Nepal earthquake, the government of Sri Lanka offered condolences and emergency aid to Nepal. Assuring full help to Nepal in the wake of the devastation, the Government of Sri Lanka mobilized resources to carry out rescue operations. Over 50 tonnes of relief items including medicines, food stuff, tents, clothes, footwear, water and other essentials was air lifted from Colombo by the Sri Lankan Air Force. The 140 rapid action and paramedics had treated over 2442 patients in Nepal.
The year 2007 was momentous in the history of Sri Lanka and Nepal foreign relations. Half a century ago in 1957 the door for diplomatic relations between the two countries was opened. A commemorative ceremony to mark the occasion of the diamond jubilee of diplomatic ties between Sri Lanka and Nepal was held on 1st September 2007. Sri Lanka and Nepal share deep-rooted historic, cultural and religious linkages based on a long-standing friendship, partnership and trust that can cultivate a win-win situation to move beyond towards progress and prosperity over the next few years.