8th January 2020
Acknowledging the significance and collaboration of the JICM
Today’s meeting is the eighth Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting. This meeting can be regarded as an important milestone for our peace process. This meeting represents not only a pivotal event that renews official discussions for the first time during the period of over one year, but may be regarded as important advance measures being undertaken for successfully convening the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong, with deep political essence.
Of course, we all have views of diversity, as well as different concepts and ways of thinking. But we all share the common goal, which is to build the Democratic Federal Union founded on the national equality and national unity. We all are well convinced that, in order to put an end to the armed conflicts that arose together with our independence, and bring forth durable peace, we all share, undeniably, the same dream of a future Union. In order to keep our country and our Union from disintegration but keep it intact “with all eggs safe and secure in the nest”, so to speak, and endure for many years in strength and stability, we must all march forward under a “federal Union system”, which all of us can agree and accept.
Ours is “a dream of a federal Union”, which we are all dreaming together, so it is no wonder that we share the same goal with heart and soul. I am sure nobody feels skeptical about it. But, of course, we have different views as to how we should materialize this dream, namely the ways and means; how to march towards the goal we have already set. Since today’s meeting will focus on finding common agreement on different concepts regarding procedural matters, and adopt these agreements, this meeting has more political significance than the “restarting” of official meetings.
The Union Government’s peace goals for the forthcoming 21st Century Panglong Conference
When our Union government launched the implementation of the national reconciliation and peace- making process, based on the NCA treaty, our aim was to get political agreements that would pave the way for securing firm foundations for the democratic federal Union. To make a review of the past, our parents and our national leaders all agreed on building the 20th Century and the Union, but, unfortunately, due to certain circumstances, our dream of building the Union was shattered. Instead, we were faced with the armed conflicts. In order to continue building the federal Union, which was the dream of our parents and our forefathers, we need important federal principles. We are convening the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong with the objective of laying down these federal principles.
From our third Union Peace Conference 21st Century Panglong, we have agreed upon 51 points of agreements as part of the Union Accord. However, these 51 points are not yet the sufficient fundamental principles for realizing the Union of our dream. We all must strive on so as to secure the fundamental federal principles that are more perfect, and more inclusive for shaping up our future Union.
Moreover, in the period beyond also, it is very important to lay down the priorities and action plans acceptable to all participants on how to continue the implementation of the NCA and the peace process. This we have all understood and agreed upon. I feel am delighted to see that we have all been involved in pooling our ideas in laying down such long-term action plans so as to strengthen and consolidate the path we have set out.
As you all know, the NCA belongs to all of us. It is necessary for all our stakeholders who have signed the agreement to share the responsibility and accountability. I wish to remind all of you in great seriousness that we should avoid from adopting what we like and rejecting what we don’t like, from implementing what pleases us most and failing to implement what doesn’t please us. If one group picks and chooses what it likes and ignores what it doesn’t like, this could cause obstacles to all the other groups, resulting in a series of difficulties for the peace process. Your signature stands for your solemn promise, your unshakeable integrity and your firm sincerity.
Frankly speaking, it was not our government which has first signed the NCA agreement. But we believe it is our duty to carry on what we have been handed over as a new government out of our sense of responsibility and accountability of a government. We accept that there still remain different approaches despite having the same goal. It is through negotiations that we can transform our differences into one common solution. It is through our mutual respect and understanding, and the foundation of our mutual trust that we can smooth out our differences. That is why I’d urge you all not to lose sight of building the mutual trust, which is so important to have among ourselves.
Bringing in the non-ceasefire groups and the non-signatories
Today at our official meeting as we discuss the action plans that will be implemented not only during the life span of the present government but also during that of the future government, there still remains some non-ceasefire ethnic groups and non-signatories of the NCA. Our NRPC and the Peace Commission have been making every effort to get in contact with these groups for the sake of making the ceasefire agreement and being inclusive in the NCA. You are always welcome to come under the Umbrella of the NCA for collective discussions, and if necessary, the Door is open for you to have separate discussions as a single group, as already clearly stated in the NCA.
I believe that we have learned a salutary lesson that it is through the dialogues that are the one and only practical and efficient means, that the armed conflicts stretching out for over seventy years can be put to an end. Concerning the case of having more armed conflicts, we would like to remind you of the fact that taking advantage by means of stronger armed forces or playing with the fancy of finding other new solutions will never bring solutions to the problems of our country.
Our people, our national races have suffered the brunt of the over seventy years of armed conflicts, and our innocent children have been going through the never-ending cycles of suffering. These sufferings are living proof of the bad outcomes armed conflicts. The armed conflicts have affected our innocent people, and their villages. The war victims have to live in miserable conditions in the refugee camps. These are the visible bad results. But there are also bad impacts that we cannot see. That is, the fact that the future of the local ethnic groups who happen to be living in the conflict areas has faded out and disappeared. In the short term, you will be drifted along in the armed conflicts, driven by your swollen pride, hatred and prejudices. But in the long run, what has been sacrificed behind the scene of smoke and gunfire is the lives of our national races, the regions where they had been settled. This we will not fail to witness, in the long run.
I’d like to draw your attention that building the democratic federal Union is the exit path of this country that the seventy year old history of Myanmar has prescribed for us. This is the outcome from the political movements and armed movements have brought about through the sacrifices of dear losses over many years. Therefore, it is necessary to sit at the political roundtable discussions, speaking out your desires and needs and joining in our discussions. It is for this opportunity that the Door of Peace is open to all. I’d strongly urge you all to come through the Door of Peace in dignity and with full confidence.
New Year Resolution for Peace
In conclusion, in order to lay down the agreements at the JICM today, the government, the Hluttaw, the representatives of the Tatmadaw and the armed national organizations have already held many official meetings freely over one year. Both sides have taken time to come to agreements through negotiations and arguments. The fruit of our discussions is today’s JICM. I really appreciate all those who have been involved in making contributions, having great values, as well as full Cetana, on the peace process. I am really grateful to you all.
Since this JICM saw the occasion of the birth of a new year, celebrated all over the world, you may take it for granted that this meeting is a very auspicious one. On the occasion of a New Year, many people assess what they did in the old year, and set out New Year resolutions and new dreams. This New Year, I hope, will see through this JICM the agreement to celebrate the Union Peace Conference 21st Century Pinglong without fail. In today’s meeting, you’ll be offered the outline of the Union Accord to be signed at the coming 21st Century Conference. Moreover, we will discuss and come to an agreement that we shall hold discussions about the priority tasks to be continued during the life span of the new government in the post 2020s.
Since important agreements for the peace-making process are going to be made at this JICM meeting on the occasion of the New Year, we may consider that it is the New Year bringing good luck to all of us. In other words, this JICM assumes the concepts of making new resolutions for peace on the occasion of a new year. Such a good beginning with new resolutions for peace, I truly believe, will bring new strengths for all of us, and I strongly urge you all to continue to strive on so that we shall have a good ending till to the 21st Century Pinglong Conference.
I wish all leaders present at this meeting, and all those involved in the peace process, the best of health and peace of mind on the occasion of the New Year.
I thank you all. (Translated by Dr. Zaw Tun)