Union Minister for International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin has participated at the 18th Mid-term Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Baku, Azerbaijan from 5 to 6 April 2018 and delivered a statement during the interactive debate under the theme “Promoting International Peace and Security for Sustainable Development”. The Ministerial Meeting was chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and attended by 120 Member States of the Movement and 17 observer States and 10 international organizations.
Union Minister U Kyaw Tin took part in the interactive debate of the ministerial meeting on 5th April 2018 emphasizing the importance for the Movement to maintain the unity and solidarity among its membership adhering to its guiding principles and objectives, particularly respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations; refraining from the interference in the internal affairs of the countries; settlement of disputes by peaceful means; and refraining from acts of aggression or threats or the use of force against any country. He also apprised the Meeting of the progress in Myanmar efforts on national reconciliation and peace process, and in resolving the situation in Rakhine State.
The Union Minister underscored the important nexus between peace and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals citing the reason that as the history of countless countries, including Myanmar, illustrates, conflict and instability have had a lasting impact on a country’s development. The Movement must continue to work on consensus basis, speak with one voice and remain united as a group in addressing the major issues of concerns to all Member States. The Movement must not encourage misuse of the forum for any act inimical to other fellow member States which could undermine the unity and solidarity of the Movement. Any dispute among member states, he added, must be resolved bilaterally by peaceful means.
In his briefing relating to Myanmar, the Union Minister explained that Myanmar, as a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, has faithfully adhered to those principles. Myanmar has undergone remarkable changes and democratic transformation in recent years. Recognizing peace as the prerequisite and enabler for the development, the Government has revitalized the peace process with numerous ethnic armed groups to end the internal armed conflicts. Thirty-seven key principles for a future democratic federal union were agreed during the second session of the Union Peace Conference in May last year. Two more ethnic armed groups came on board to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) last February bringing the total number of signatories to ten, marking a new milestone in the direction of peace.
The Union Minister also explained about the issue of Rakhine State which, he said, has become the centre of the world’s attention due to incessant media reports portraying it as a religious issue. Myanmar fully shares the concern over the humanitarian situation of all affected communities which was in fact ignited by the coordinated attacks by ARSA terrorists against 30 border security posts on 25 August 2017. Many overlooked this fact as well as the sufferings, insecurity and fears of Rakhine and many other ethnic minorities. Massive displacements were caused not only by violence involved in the fight against terrorists but also by fear; intimidation and persuasion of the terror group. In fact, the Rakhine problem is not an issue of religious discrimination as widely portrayed, but it is a political and economic issue involving illegal migration, resource competition, poverty, citizenship issue, rule of law and national security. The Government is fully committed to find a sustainable solution that would lead to peace, stability and development for all communities within the State.
The Union Minister further elaborated that the Government has been implementing the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission through formation of a Ministerial-level implementation committee, an Advisory Board comprised of local and foreign eminent personalities and the Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development in Rakhine (UEHRD). Myanmar is working bilaterally with Bangladesh for early repatriation of the displaced people of Rakhine State through a joint working group following the signing of a number of agreements between the two countries since 23 November last year. Myanmar has sent back a list of hundreds of peoples which the government was able to verify, even though the forms received from Bangladesh are not in conformity with the agreed prescribed form for repatriation. Myanmar side is ready to receive verified returnees back any time.
The Government has also put in place an effective mechanism to deliver humanitarian assistance to all affected communities through Red Cross Movement and AHA Centre, WFP and FAO. The Government has proposed a draft MOU to UNDP and UNHCR to jointly assist the Government’s efforts in carrying out livelihood development for all communities in Rakhine State and for repatriation and resettlement of the displaced persons respectively.
The Union Minister urged the members of the Movement to take a more positive approach by helping Myanmar to resolve the issue, rather than focusing on criticism, condemnation and hate narratives. Mishandling of the issue could trigger chaos, instability and tamper social harmony in the multi-religious country. It could even undermine the ongoing democratization process of Myanmar. It is important to focus on resolving the situation, not inflaming the situation and on helping Myanmar in bringing the communities together instead of driving them further apart. The Union Minister also pointed out the injustice, unfairness and inequalities of the current world order and the monopolization of the news media by the rich and powerful and warned that unbalanced reporting and spread of fake news could negatively influence policy decisions to the peril of less developed or weaker member States whose views and narratives are faced with suppression. He concluded by urging the Non-Aligned Movement to work together in unity and solidarity to strengthen the group and to shape a more equitable and better world in order to realize lasting peace, social justice and to achieve sustainable development.
The Conference adopted the Final Document, Baku Declaration, Declaration on Palestine and General report. The Ministerial Meeting was preceded by Senior Officials Meeting on 3 and 4 April.
During his stay in Baku, the Union Minister held bilateral meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Minister of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the current Chair of the NAM, and the heads of delegations of Singapore, Cuba and India. The Myanmar delegation arrived back Yangon 8 April 2018.