We have French ambassador Gilles-Henri Garault as our guest for this week's interview. A few days before Bastille Day, the national day of
Garault, who was special advisor to the French Minister for Foreign Affairs before assuming the current post, is a PhD in history and archaeology. He has served as second counsellor at the French Embassy in Madrid, as counsellor at the cabinet of the speaker of the National Assembly looking after European and international affairs, as deputy director at the Department for Economic and Financial Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, special counsellor of the Minister for Civil Service, State Reforms and Territorial Planning and as head of the cabinet of the State Minister for State Reforms. Garault was also an associate professor at the Institute for Political Studies of Paris.
As a diplomat who has also written several books on economics, international relations and history, Garault says
Q: How have Nepal-France relations evolved?
Garault: We have very good relations with
If you ask about the relations from a political point of view, our relations have been of very low intensity during the last 10 years. We didn't have contacts with very high level people here because of the decade-long Maoist insurgency, the massacre and so forth.
Q: In what areas were Nepal-France relations concentrated in the past?
Garault: In the past, that is in the 1960s, we helped the Nepal Army in training. We also provided them with some French helicopters and other vehicles. But after the 2001 royal massacre, nobody understands what is happening; it is like a black hole. So now we are trying to understand; we are trying to improve relations. But if you ask me if we have some very important strategic and geopolitical interest in
Q: Will there be any change in
Garault: I think there will be no special approach, no real change towards the new government to be formed or led by the Maoists. Maoism is not a disability, it's a political current which won the last CA elections quite free and fair.
Q: What is your analysis of
Garault: It is a very interesting question, but difficult to answer in brief.
The second prominent factor is the geographical situation of
Concerning agriculture, this sector still depends on the weather, which is becoming more and more unstable in the context of global warming. The fragility of agriculture goes along with the inefficiency of agricultural methods and infrastructure leading the sector to absorb 80 percent of the workers while producing only 33 percent of the GDP. Land reform organized in partnership with competent organizations and structured around educational programs could be set up. Also, with reinforced structures of maintaining stocks,
Q: You have been heading the European Commission in
Garault: I think the changing context of
Concerning the EU's role in the post-conflict transition of
But the EU's main priority in
Q: Some political parties, for instance the Maoists, are speaking of the French model of federal government. What would that mean in
Garault: We heard, indeed, about this interest in the French constitutional model and our political system. And we are happy to know that. But let me give some more details about the French model. It is anything except a federal government.
But we are still far from a federal model. There is no real autonomy. Our model is, therefore, different from the full-fledged federal systems found in
I don't now if this model is suitable for
Q: Why is
Garault: We assumed this choice. As you know,
Q: What could be the areas of interest for prospective French investors in
Garault: We are arranging a business trip for French companies next October. It was postponed due to the unfavorable political situation in
We think there are some possibilities for investment in hydropower. This is our first priority in
We are also interested in aeronautics. We sent three small aircraft to Buddha Air. We may have an interest in waste management in
Q: If the government shows an interest in waste management, will French companies come over here?
Garault: We have the best companies in waste management. Some of them are doing waste management in
Q: Have you had any discussions about this?
Garault: I don't have any information about that. We are preparing a report on garbage management in
But we have a lot of problems here. We have problems of garbage storage and we have a lot of strikes. So we have to change the system completely. Waste management in
We are also interested in agro business because we have the most modern agro-based companies, particularly in terms of modernized markets, storage, commercialization and the like.
If you talk of export,