It gives me immense pleasure and pride to express my feelings and ideas to the government and people of Nepal in conjunction with the National Day of the Czech Republic celebrated on October 28.
Before doing that, let me convey my heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Nepal for the loss of lives due to Covid-19 and express my full respect for all they have been doing to combat the pandemic that, no doubt, is one the most unprecedented challenges human beings have ever experienced.
To explain why is it on October 28 that the Czech Republic celebrates its National Day, let me recall that on that date, in 1918, Czechoslovakia, the predecessor of today´s Czech Republic, declared its independence, and emancipated nations of Czechs and Slovaks took into hands the administration of their affairs. Dreams and aspirations of so many generations for self-governance turned into reality. With the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia, October 28 is and will remain forever a memorable milestone in our history.
As Czechs living in the Czech Republic and abroad remember the Independent Czechoslovakia State Day, I would like to appreciate a long-lasting positive bilateral partnership between the Czech Republic and Nepal that dates back to decades ago.
Indeed, Nepal has always held an important place in our portfolio of foreign partners. The Czech Republic has been present in this country for a long time through a range of development assistance programmes, to enhance sustainable economic progress, inclusion, and access to basic medical care implemented bilaterally or through the European Union, to which the Czech Republic is a proud member. Czechs stood with the people of Nepal in the immediate aftermath of the 2015 earthquake and were among the first to offer humanitarian aid.
Nepal has emerged as a preferred tourist destination for fellow compatriots of mine travelling to this region. I believe that you would be surprised how many in the Czech Republic know a lot about this beautiful country and its remarkable history and show interest in people-to-people contacts. To support them, I had the privilege to open a visa application centre in the capital, Kathmandu, last year, which facilitates the visa procedures for Nepali citizens interested in visiting the Czech Republic.
I am pleased to note that the Czech Republic and Nepal have been joining efforts to take their bilateral relations to the next level in a number of areas, including political ties, contractual basis, trade and economic cooperation, education, culture and people-to-people contacts. They are keen to work together to make the ambition of Nepal towards graduation from the least developed countries to happen.
But, the picture would have been incomplete if there had not been the work of the Honorary Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Kathmandu headed by Vishnu Kumar Agarwal. The consulate general has been doing a great job to represent the Czech Republic in Nepal and promote bilateral ties between our two countries.
Let me wish every success to the government and people of Nepal in these trying times. May the partnership between our two great nations continue to flourish and be mutually beneficial.