European Union’s Divisive Mission
Ritu Raj Subedi
In its first foreign policy test, the Left Alliance government has stood up for the national sovereignty, integrity and dignity. Showing a rare diplomatic grit, the government has taken the European Union to task for its irresponsible comments on the internal affairs of Nepal. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly responded to the European Union’s unsolicited and obtrusive advice over the new constitution by issuing a strong-worded statement. The government said the EU Election Observation Mission’s (EUEOM) remarks are ‘uncalled for,’ ‘undermine’ the successful holding of peaceful election, and ‘go against the scope and norms of international election observation’. “Its recommendations and comments are a direct challenge to the provisions of the Constitution of Nepal which was promulgated in line with the inclusive policy reflective of Nepali social structure, by the sovereign decision of Nepali people,” the ministry said.
The statement indeed sends a tough message to Brussels, the headquarters of EU in Belgium. The EU mission is now expected to come to senses so as to rectify its diplomatic faux pas and respect the spirit of Westphalian sovereignty, the concept that originated in Europe itself. “The Westphalian sovereignty is the principle of international law that each nation-state has exclusive sovereignty over its territory. External powers should not interfere in another country’s domestic affairs. Each state, no matter how large or small, has equal right to sovereignty,” said Wikipedia. Nepal government’s stand is based on the Westphalian principle that amply suggests it is unwilling to succumb to hegemony of any foreign power, and is poised to execute independent foreign policies based on the broader interest of the people and the nation.
Even the Election Commission of Nepal plucked up courage to rebuke the freewheeling donor agency. It termed the EUEOM’s report ‘misleading’, ‘baseless’ and “in contravention of the international poll observation code of conduct”. The EC has ‘totally rejected’ the Mission’s comments and advice. For overstepping the diplomatic line, the EC may probably blacklist and bar the EU poll observers from inspecting the future elections in the country. The political meddling had weakened the election body in the past. It seems the EC has also found its feet with the emergence of a stable government.
The EU, supranational bureaucratic wing of 28-member states, has often run the gauntlet for its irrational and interventionist activity in Nepal. It has been widely perceived that the EU has been funding the divisive ethnic movements to pit one social group against another. Likewise, it is accused of promoting Christianity, destroying Hindu religion, and instigating secessionist campaign and free-Tibet activists from the Nepal-based office.
In its latest move, the EU attempted to desecrate Nepal’s new charter by misinterpreting its provisions of inclusive democracy. This appears to be a wicked design aimed at reviving the ethno-centric political agenda that has already been settled following the promulgation of the constitution in 2015. The EU officials brazenly asked the government to remove the Khas-Aryan people from inclusion quota, citing that they are well-represented and no longer need the reservation from the state. In making such a defective conclusion, the EU miserably lacks the understanding of Nepal’s socio-cultural evolution and history. This scribe suggests the EU send a team to Karnali to actually know about the Khas. The Karnali zone, the most backward region, is the real home to Khas-Aryans. Though these folks hail from Brahmin and Chhetri caste groups, they have lagged behind any other indigenous, ethnic and marginalised groups. They need constitutional interventions to be taken out of abject penury and social exclusion.
Although the EU has got a roasting from different quarters for poking its nose into the internal affairs of Nepal, it has been successful in fulfilling its divisive mission. The EUEOM’s report has already divided the people on the ethnic line. While a larger section of populace has condemned the EU report, some pro-ethnic groups and political parties have thrown their support behind it. With the three-tier poll, Nepal has embarked on the path of stability, development and prosperity. The donor agencies, like EU, should have lent their helping hands to the new government to meet these missions. But the EU has seemingly stood on the wrong side of political discourse that is not propitious for the fledgling republic.
There is a historic reason why the European powers, mainly the UK target Khas-Aryans. Today’s UK is in the process of leaving the EU but many EU members nurture similar colonial attitude towards the small and poor nations, like Nepal. Christianity binds them together to attack Khas-Aryans and demoralise the Nepali state. The Khas had played a crucial role in unifying Nepal. Nepal’s unifier Prithvi Narayan Shah had taken all ethnic groups into confidence during the unification drive that had posed a stumbling block to the ambition of British East India Company hell-bent on subjugating Nepal so that it could carry out trade and commerce with Tibet via the route of Kathmandu Valley. But PN Shah had aborted its design by defeating the invading English soldiers in the Sinduligadhi war. Besides, he had banished Capuchin missionaries from Kathmandu for instigating Jay Prakash Malla, the then king of Kathmandu, to invite the British army in Nepal. After the British debacle in Sindhuligadhi, the Christian missionaries continued to vilify PN Shah through concoction of myths, lies and propaganda.
Single ethnic identity
Perhaps driven by this historic vendetta, a host of donors pour money to create ethnic, cultural and religious division here. They have been assisting various ethnic groups for the cause of ‘single ethnic identity’. Altogether 59 ethnic indigenous groups are active to this end. Their umbrella organization, Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), has so far received Rs 350 million in the last one decade. But when the new NEFIN leadership rejected the idea of ‘single ethnic state’ some years ago, the donors, including DFID stopped giving aid to it. Now they have started to provide development aid to Group Eight (G-8) that includes the organisations of Rai, Gurung, Magar, Newar, Tharu, Sherpa and Tamang. The G-8 was formed to challenge NEFIN and meet the demand of the establishment of ethnic states in Nepal. Donors argue that they are funding for the empowerment of ethnic groups. But the money actually goes to foment toxic ideology that disrupts ethnic and cultural harmony in the Nepali society. So why the European Union Election Mission demanded for the removal of Khas/Aryans from the inclusion quota needs to be understood in this light.