Susan Ulbaek, head of Asia Department of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was in Kathmandu this week carrying a message from Copenhagen expressing concerns for human rights and democracy. Between meetings, Ulbaek spoke exclusively with Nepali Times on Thursday.
Nepali Times: What is Denmark's main message to Nepal?
Susan Ulbaek: Our basic concern is that we would like to see the revival of democracy and restoration of civil liberties. We want to see the process of democratisation restored through peace.
How is suspending aid going to help you do that?
We want to be clear that we are not suspending aid. We would like to stay here as long as we can and support the Nepali people. We have only suspended Danish-funded activities under the Revenue Administration Support project until further notice. The Danish government has decided not to enter into any project or program agreements with the Nepali authorities.
Your decision has been criticised as unilateral by other donors.
Danish government assistance is based on partnership which has at its very centre the progress on human rights situation and democratisation. We consider the events of February First as a serious setback to multiparty democracy. Democracy cannot be safeguarded by excluding legitimate democratic forces from the decision-making process.
Do you believe the country resolution on Nepal will go ahead in Geneva?
We very much hope that will happen. We are working to get a resolution to show we can all cooperate on human rights. We don't want any confrontation in Geneva.
What if the resolution fails?
Then, we will have to move things all over again. We are working hard on an agreement with the government because we would like to see the human rights situation improve.
The human rights situation was bad even under democratic governments, how come you didn't react then?
We were always arguing and giving very strong messages on human rights to the government. These messages on human rights and democratisation were also sent to political parties. We had hoped a lot of good things but unfortunately, nothing happened.
What have you discussed so far with political leaders?
We want to know their strategies and are urging them to unite and present a united framework since that is essential for the restoration of democracy.