By Khin Yadana
Photo: Zuly Moe
Q: Could you kindly elaborate on the policies pursued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of International Cooperation in serving the interests of the State and its peoples?
A: Foreign policy is formulated with a vision to protect and promote the interests of a nation and its people taking into account many factors including the prevailing domestic and international circumstances. In other words, the mission of our Ministry is to contribute towards achieving the national policies and objectives through conducting international relations and enhancing cooperation. As such, we have been supporting, through international relations, the Government’s efforts to achieve its objectives, namely national reconciliation and peace, democratic transformation and socio-economic development of the people of Myanmar.
In my capacity as Union Minister for International Cooperation, I have been rendering assistance in handling matters pertaining to foreign relations and international cooperation, particularly to represent the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs at the regional and multilateral meetings.
Our government continues to pursue the “Independent, Active, and Non-aligned Foreign Policy” in line with the relevant provision of the 2008 Constitution. However, as the domestic policies and objectives have changed, the incumbent Government took a different approach in the practice of the said foreign policy. Our diplomats are not only to serve the national interests, but also to contribute to promoting regional interests as well as to promote peace and development not only for Myanmar but also for the world at large. We attach importance to promotion of democracy and human rights and take the approach of paying special emphasis on the domestic views while taking into consideration the international perceptions in addressing the challenges facing our country.
In the early days of its regaining independence, Myanmar has been able to maintain cordial relations with all major powers. Likewise, the present government has been striving for fostering friendly relations with all countries around the world in a balanced manner. We are trying to consolidate our bonds of friendship with our neighbours and, at the same time, exerting efforts to strengthen our ties with all countries far and near.
Our bilateral relations with immediate neighbours are more delicate than relations with countries from far away regions. As neighbours will have to live side-by-side so long as the world exists, we pay special attention and exert strenuous efforts to further consolidate the good neighbourly relations with all our neighbours based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. It has resulted in significant achievements during the past four years in consolidation of our relations with the neighbouring countries, the ASEAN member States and regional economic powers such as China, India, Japan and South Korea.
In addition, Myanmar has also focused on intensifying cooperation and engagements with the regional groupings such as ASEAN and BIMSTEC. Our cooperation with the United Nations, despite some challenges in certain areas, remains the major cornerstone of Myanmar’s foreign policy. Therefore, we have been cooperating with the United Nations and other international organisations, based on our priority needs and prevailing realities on the ground, in our endeavours to realize the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development goals.
People-to-people relations play a vital role in fostering an ever-lasting friendship and bilateral relations. As such, we have adopted a people-centred diplomacy and placed great emphasis not only on advancing government-to-government relations but also on promoting mutual trust and friendly ties between the peoples in promoting our bilateral relations.
In accordance with our people-centred policy, we attach priority to better protecting and promoting the interests of not only Myanmar nationals but also former Myanmar citizens living abroad. We are also trying to mobilize the strength of our nationals living abroad to enable them to contribute with their experience and expertise in our nation building endeavours.
Q: What were the priority tasks being implemented by the Ministry during the fourth year of the Government term?
A: The major obstacles in our efforts towards further advancing our international relations is the issue of mass displacement of people from Rakhine State that has caused misunderstanding on Myanmar and subsequently hurt the image of the country. Therefore, brightening up the image of our country has been the first and foremost priority assigned to all Myanmar diplomats during the fourth year of the present administration.
Moreover, we are also exerting efforts to garner the support and assistance of the regional and multilateral organizations to achieve our national objectives, namely national reconciliation and peace, socio-economic development and democratization process as well as to win the understanding and constructive support of the international community in addressing the challenges facing our country.
To date, we have been able to maintain the continued support and assistance of the international community for our peace and democratization processes. With a view to fostering socio-economic development of our people, we have also instructed our diplomats to pay special emphasis to attract more foreign investments, boost trade, promote tourism and secure more international financial and technical assistances for the country.
As and when the image of the State is brightened up, all the afore-mentioned objectives will be automatically fulfilled. Therefore, resolving the issue to overcome the challenges posed by Rakhine State has been set as one of the top priorities of our government.
Q: Could you explain more on the arrangements of State Visits with an aim of fostering the bilateral relations?
A: We are implementing the foreign policy through bilateral, regional and multilateral relations and cooperation. For the success of bilateral visits of our Leaders, our Ministry is responsible to make logistic arrangements for the visit, prepare points for discussions and negotiate the draft Joint Statements to be issued following the visits. During the fourth year of the current Government, our President paid a State Visit to Viet Nam and attended the UN Vesak Day Celebration during the visit. Moreover, he attended the Swearing-in Ceremony of the Indian Prime Minister Modi and also paid a State Visit to India at the invitation of the Indian President.
The State Counsellor also paid official visits to the People’s Republic of China, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan and the Republic of Korea during her fourth year in office. She attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in China as well as the 34th and 35th ASEAN Summits in Thailand. During her working visit to Japan, the State Counsellor attended the Enthronement Ceremony of the Japanese Emperor, and she attended the ASEAN-Korea Commemorative Summit and the Mekong-Korea Summit held in the Republic of Korea. During those visits, the State Counsellor met with the Leaders of the respective countries and discussed matters pertaining to the promotion of bilateral relations and cooperation.
Moreover, the State Counsellor paid official visits to Czech Republic and Hungary – the Central European countries which have first-hand experience in democratic transitions. During the visits, she met with the leaders of those countries and exchanged views on strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation. She gave lectures on Myanmar’s experiences in democratic transition, and also held business forums to meet with the entrepreneurs on promoting trade and investments in Myanmar. Following the COVID-19 breakout, some of the visits scheduled to take place this year had to be postponed and some cancelled.
We successfully facilitated the visit of the Vice-President (1) to the People’s Republic of China to attend the ASEAN-China EXPO and the ASEAN-China Business and Investment Summit. We also arranged the visits of the Vice-President (2) to Indonesia to attend the Inauguration Ceremony of the Indonesian Government, and his visits to Cambodia and the Republic of Korea to attend the Summits on Peace, Security and Human Development.
Q: Please tell us about the State and other high-level incoming visits to Myanmar.
A: During the fourth year of the current administration, the President and First Lady of the Republic of Korea, the President of Nepal, the President of the People’s Republic of China and the Prime Minister of Vietnam paid State/ Goodwill Visits to Myanmar. Moreover, the Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles, the Deputy Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Viet Nam and Serbia paid official visits to Myanmar.
Ministers and Deputy Foreign Ministers from Thailand, Norway, Poland, America, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Philippines, Timor Leste, Venezuela, Japan and China also paid official visits to Myanmar. Over the past year, we were able to arrange around 30 Heads of State, Ministerial and Deputy Ministerial level working visits from foreign countries.
Q: Since exchange of visits would result in enhancing bilateral cooperation as well as bringing in technical and development assistance to our country, could you please explain more about some of the benefits?
A: Every visit definitely contributes to the consolidation of the bilateral friendship and the promotion of mutual benefit to the countries and peoples. I would like to cite some examples on this.
During the visit of our President to India, a total of 10 MoUs and Agreements were signed which include the MoUs on the Indian assistance for Quick Impact Projects (QIP) and cooperation in the fields of health research, communication, petroleum products and human trafficking, etc. In addition, provision of Indian assistance for regional development projects under the Rakhine Development Programme and granting of import quota of up to 400,000 metric tons of pulses and beans from Myanmar were also agreed.
Thus, the President’s visit to India has served as an impetus to the further enhancement of friendly ties and cooperation and set a historic milestone in our bilateral relations.
During the visit of the State Counsellor to China, a total of 3 instruments, namely, Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, MoU on China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) Cooperation Plan (2019-2030), and MoU on the Formulation of the Five-year Development Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation were signed. These instruments will be the major driving forces in accelerating the momentum of our bilateral cooperation. Similarly, during the visit of the President of South Korea to Myanmar, a framework agreement concerning loans to support the economic development of Myanmar, and MoUs on trade and industrial cooperation, science and technological cooperation, and startups and innovation were signed. Furthermore, the Korean Government handed over 60 school buses donated to Myanmar, launched the Myanmar-Korea Industrial Complex and organized the Myanmar-Korea Business Forum during the visit. The Korean Government also agreed to take up to 7,000 Myanmar workers starting from this year 2020 at the request of the Myanmar side.
During the visit of the Vietnamese Prime Minister to Myanmar, the MoU on Cooperation in Agriculture and Rural Development, the MoU on Cooperation between the two Foreign Ministries, and the Action Plan on Implementation of the Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership (2019-2024) were signed. Besides, the diplomatic notes for the extension of stay for holders of ordinary passports from 14 to 30 days were exchanged, aiming to promote people-to-people exchanges.
The State Visit of the Chinese President to Myanmar this year was the first ever Head of State level visit from China to Myanmar in 19 years and it also coincides with the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of Myanmar-China diplomatic relations. During the visit, both sides agreed to further consolidate the traditional bonds of friendship between Myanmar and China, and to elevate from the comprehensive strategic cooperation to “Myanmar-China Community with a Shared Future” based on mutual benefits, equality and win-win cooperation.
With a total of 33 Agreements, MoUs and documents signed and exchanged during the visit, this State Visit has served as an impetus to further enhance bilateral ties and expand mutually beneficial multi-faceted cooperation between Myanmar and China. In addition, China announced its pledge to provide Yuan 4 billion worth of development assistance to Myanmar. China also reiterated its continued support for Myanmar’s ongoing efforts for national reconciliation, peace process and the repatriation and resettlement of displaced persons from Rakhine State.
Q: May I know how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been fostering the bilateral relations through the Bilateral Joint Commission (JC), the Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) mechanisms and other fora?
A: We have been able to establish more foreign office consultation mechanisms in order to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation. We used to establish such mechanisms mostly with neighbouring countries, however, we have been able to further expand those mechanisms with Australia, New Zealand and some western countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Poland, and Lithuania during our Government’s tenure.
Myanmar hosted the Myanmar-China Border Areas Management and Cooperation Meeting during the fourth year of our Government. In addition, we were able to hold Joint Commission Meetings for Bilateral Cooperation with Cambodia, Laos, Philippines and Vietnam which have been suspended for some time.
We also held the bilateral Foreign Office Consultations with India, Norway, Australia, South Africa, and Lithuania, participated in the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Ministerial and Senior Officials’ Meetings of Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
As we have expanded to establish such kind of consultation mechanisms, we were able to cordially discuss matters pertaining to fostering the existing friendly relations and bilateral cooperation as well as deepening of mutual understanding. In addition, we could thoroughly apprise them of the delicate and complex challenges faced by Myanmar during its democratic transition.
Q: Could you kindly share more about the expansion of diplomatic relations with new partners in the realm of international relations?
A: With a view to promoting friendly relations with countries all over the world and extending mutual support to each other at the international arena, we are expanding diplomatic relations with new partners. We were able to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Togo during the fourth year of our administration to promote the friendly relations with African nations. We have been able to establish diplomatic relations with 9 countries over the past four years, bringing the total to 123 countries out of 193 countries.
In terms of diplomatic representations, with the opening of two new diplomatic missions in Prague, the Czech Republic and in Havana, Cuba in 2019, we now have altogether 46 Myanmar Missions abroad – 37 Embassies, 3 Permanent Missions, and 6 Consulates-General.
Q. Could you kindly elaborate on Myanmar’s active participation in ASEAN and other regional organisations?
A: With an aim of promoting its relations with countries in the region, Myanmar has also been actively participating in regional groupings and initiatives such as ASEAN, BIMSTEC and the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). We participated in a series of official meetings including the ASEAN Summits, ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meetings (AMM), ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM), the ASEAN Dialogue Partners’ Meetings and workshops over the past year.
The State Counsellor led the Myanmar Delegations to the ASEAN Summits and discussed matters pertaining to regional cooperation. She also attended the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and briefed on the economic reforms and investment opportunities in Myanmar to the entrepreneurs from the regional business circles. Myanmar is currently serving as the Country Coordinator for ASEAN-Canada relations. ASEAN is supporting Myanmar with 7 projects to create a conducive environment for the successful repatriation of the displaced persons in Rakhine State.
Moreover, the State Counsellor attended the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit and the Mekong-ROK Summit held in the Republic of Korea. It has been a fruitful visit to accelerate the momentum of the multi-sectoral cooperation between Myanmar and Korea. Myanmar is also actively participating in the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism (LMC) and secured USD 6.8 million for the implementation of 22 development projects in Myanmar this year.
Q: May I know the Government’s actions in protection of the interests of the Myanmar nationals living abroad and other consular services?
A: As an elected government, we have adopted a people-centred diplomacy with an aim of protecting and promoting people’s interests and providing better service to the general public. Myanmar Missions abroad have been clearly instructed to place great emphasis on protecting the interests of not only Myanmar nationals, but also former Myanmar citizens living abroad, and to refrain from any forms of corruption in their services. With the relaxation of some rules and reforms in various sectors, we have been able to provide assistance to Myanmar nationals abroad who are in difficulty, to the extent as much as possible within our limited human and financial resources. Myanmar Missions have made successful consular interventions for Myanmar workers abroad in claiming compensations in case of injuries or loss of lives.
With peace and stability restored in the border region, a Myanmar-Thailand joint working committee has been established since 2016 to facilitate repatriation of Myanmar nationals living in the camps along the border who wish to return to Myanmar of their own volition. To date, a total of 1,041 verified returnees have been received and necessary assistance were provided to them in coordination with relevant line government agencies.
The Myanmar Missions abroad are also contributing to earning revenue for the State through their consular services. We earned a total of Kyat 34,329 million (USD 22.26 million) for the State revenue within the previous year by collecting visa fees, income tax, passport fees and charges for other consular services.
Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinated with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism to relax the visa regulations with a view to promoting tourism industry of Myanmar. Under this scheme, we have granted visa-free entry to tourists from Japan, South Korea, Macao and Hong Kong (Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China), and Visa-on-Arrival (Tourist) for citizens of China, India, Italy, Spain, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Luxemburg and New Zealand. These measures have resulted in a significant increase of foreign tourist arrivals to Myanmar before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: Let me know about the invitation extended to the Myanmar nationals abroad for their contribution to the development endeavours of the State.
A: The strength and participation of the people are of paramount importance in achieving our national objectives, namely, peace, building a democratic federal union and national development endeavours. As such, the State Counsellor, during her visits abroad, has invited Myanmar nationals and former Myanmar citizens living abroad to contribute in nation building tasks with their acquired expertise and experiences. Should they wish to do so, they are invited to contact the nearest Myanmar Missions or to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for registration. We have already assigned a special unit to directly deal with this matter and to liaise with the line ministries depending on the sector they wish to contribute.
Q: With regard to the issue of Rakhine State, may I know the ongoing efforts of your Ministry to respond to the mounting challenges being faced at the international arena?
A: In fact, the conflicts between the two different communities in Rakhine State broke out and came to the fore once again in 2012. Since taking office, the government has attached top priority to finding a sustainable solution to the issue of Rakhine State in its Foreign Policy. A month after assuming office, the Government established the Central Committee on the Implementation of Peace, Stability and Development of the Rakhine State led by the State Counsellor and also set up the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State chaired by Dr. Kofi Annan in September 2016. As a result of such positive developments, the international community has responded positively to Myanmar’s efforts in promoting democracy, peace and development. The EU-sponsored resolution on situation of human rights in Myanmar, which have been tabled for the past 25 years, was discontinued at the UN General Assembly held in September 2016. At the same time, following the State Counsellor’s official visit to Washington, D.C., the United States lifted all its remaining economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar. This was one of the remarkable diplomatic achievements of Myanmar.
At a time when Myanmar was witnessing positive developments, the ARSA terrorist group launched provocative coordinated attacks on several Border Police Outposts on 9 October 2016 and 25 August 2017 with an aim to attract the international attention back to the issue of Rakhine State. The ensuing massive displacement of people from Rakhine State has resulted in re-emergence of mounting criticism on Myanmar.
The Government has been taking measures to deflate international pressures through diplomatic engagements by means of bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation. There were also instances where we have also approached some countries through dispatch of Special Envoys.
Moreover, we explain our positions regarding the Rakhine issue through bilateral human rights dialogues. We have conducted Myanmar-EU Human Rights Dialogue for 5 times, Myanmar-Japan Human Rights Dialogues for 7 times and Myanmar-US Human Rights Dialogues for 2 times. Furthermore, we held discussions with the EU for four times to address the issue of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) and updated the Government’s efforts in promotion and protection of human rights including the situation in Rakhine State.
Seizing every possible opportunity, our Myanmar diplomats stood up the mounting international pressure to explain their position to defend the national interests at the international frontline of the United Nations and regional meetings such as ASEAN Summits and ASEAN Ministerial Meetings. The Government has also dispatched high level delegations to the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, Third Committee, the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council to update the realities and complex situation of Myanmar and also to continue engagements with friendly countries as well as to approach the countries which do not have a clear understanding on the complex issue.
Myanmar has been cooperating actively with the United Nations in many spheres despite challenges in certain areas. The Government has allowed the opening of the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General in Nay Pyi Taw and has been working closely with Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener, the United Nations Special Envoy on Myanmar. Our Government is also cooperating with some thematic Special Representatives of the United Nations Secretary-General. We have also facilitated the visits of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict to Myanmar and are engaging with their offices in the areas of their respective mandates.
In addition to our diplomatic efforts to explain the complexities of the issue at the international arena, we are also coordinating with the relevant line Ministries at the domestic level to defuse communal tensions, to take actions against human rights violators in accordance with the domestic laws, to make progress in the repatriation process and to seek a sustainable solution for peace, stability and development in Rakhine State.
While implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, we are striving to resolve the issue bilaterally on the basic of the three agreements signed with Bangladesh on repatriation of displaced people. However, the repatriation process makes no head way so far, as the other party is focusing on exerting international pressure rather than resolving the issue in adherence to the agreed bilateral arrangements. In this regard, we are also cooperating with UNDP, UNHCR, ASEAN and other partner countries so as to create a conducive environment for the prospective returnees.
Moreover, in order to garner support from regional organisations in resolving the issue of Rakhine State, we have allowed the ASEAN and the AHA Centre to participate in the provision of humanitarian assistance and livelihood opportunities there. The ASEAN-ERAT conducted Preliminary Needs Assessment (PNA) in Rakhine State and 7 prioritized projects are identified for the implementation of the recommendations of the report of the PNA. The National IDP Camp Closure Strategy was launched on 19 November 2019 for the systematic closure of IDP camps. As reconciliation and harmony among the communities are pivotal to achieve sustainable solution for peace and stability of Rakhine State, we have already launched projects designed to create unity and harmony among communities in Maungdaw Township.
The Government is committed to ensuring accountability should there be any human rights violation. An Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICoE) headed by Ambassador Manalo of the Philippines was established to conduct investigations. On 20 January 2020, the Chairperson of ICoE submitted the Commission’s final report to the President. The President forwarded the full report with annexes to the Office of the Union Attorney General and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for further investigation and legal proceedings.
Thanks to these multi-dimensional endeavours, we have been able to prevent the attempt to exert strong measures against Myanmar at the UN General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council. Under such circumstances, The Gambia has therefore filed a case against Myanmar on alleged violation of Genocide Convention at the ICJ as a clear step to mount pressure on Myanmar.
The State Counsellor, in her capacity as Union Minister for Foreign Affairs has led a delegation to attend the hearings of oral proceedings at the ICJ in The Hague in December 2019 to explain about the real ground situation of Rakhine State and the Government’s efforts to address the issue. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been extending support to the Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor in its efforts to submit a report on Provisional Measures adopted by ICJ and to face the lawsuit.
Q: May I know about the status and Myanmar’s efforts on accession to International Treaties and active participation in the International Organisations.
A: The Myanmar Government has taken steps towards the accession to international treaties to promote its cooperation with the international community on the promotion of human rights. Myanmar’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (CRC-OPAC) on 27 September 2019 has been one of the concrete steps forward to this end. Furthermore, we are reviewing the international instruments which have yet to be ratified including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and are organizing awareness raising workshops on ICCPR with an aim to have better understanding of it.
The successful inscription of Myanmar’s Ancient Archaeological site of Bagan in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List has been a true testament to the strenuous efforts of the Ministry and Myanmar Missions abroad in securing bilateral support of other countries towards Myanmar. Myanmar was also elected with 142 votes out of 180 votes as a member to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), representing the Asia-Pacific Group (ASPAC), for the 2019-2023 term.
Q: Could you explain what have been achieved on matters related to the boundary issues?
A: We are given a clear guidance by the State Counsellor to address the outstanding issues of boundary demarcation which remained unsettled by the successive governments at a time when we are enjoying excellent relations with our neighbours, in order that we could pass on a good legacy to our next generation. We are also of the view that having a clearly demarcated boundary will prevent future boundary disputes between countries.
During our Government’s tenure, technical experts from Myanmar and Thailand were able to undertake joint inspection of boundary pillars, maintenance and erection of additional pillars during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 field seasons in order to prevent illegal settlements in the border areas of Mai Sai – Mae Ruak River and to have clear line of demarcation between Myanmar and Thailand. With a view to early signing of an MoU on the Survey and Demarcation between Myanmar and Thailand, Senior Officials Meeting has been held and narrowed down the differences of opinions between the two sides.
In addition, we were able to erect 38 additional boundary pillars between BP 145 and BP 146 and 36 additional boundary pillars between BP 80 and BP 82 along Myanmar-India border. To address the pending issue of 9 boundary pillars in the Kabaw Valley, a joint field inspection of boundary pillars was conducted on 27 November 2019 as per the agreement reached at the Survey Director Level Meeting held in Moreh in August 2019.
Although the Myanmar-China boundary has been clearly demarcated, joint inspection of border posts has not been conducted for over 23 years. Therefore, in preparation for the Third Myanmar-China Joint Inspection, preliminary coordination meetings are held alternatively in Myanmar and China, and agreement has been reached to conduct a joint aerial photography along the border in 2020.
Q: I would like to know about the enhancement of capacities for the diplomats who are performing duties to realize the objectives of the Ministry.
A: Well-rounded diplomats are in great need in our efforts to achieve the Ministry’s objectives by means of diplomacy. In this regard, our Ministry has placed much emphasis on making new recruitments, making arrangements for diplomats to attend domestic and overseas trainings for capacity building and providing necessary logistic support to the Myanmar Missions abroad. A total of 130 diplomats have been sent abroad to pursue overseas studies during our Government’s tenure.
Furthermore, we have been conducting internal training courses on operational skills, international relations and diplomacy, English proficiency and translation/ interpretation to better equip our diplomats before serving abroad. Courses on the Basic Diplomatic Skills are conducted at the Ministry for the personnel from the Ministry and other government agencies, entrepreneurs and young graduates. Two courses were conducted in the past year which were attended by 400 participants. Our Ministry is also convening courses on dress codes/ costumes and grooming, Myanmar culinary and hospitality classes for the spouses of the diplomats as well.
In promoting the image of the country, diplomats at the Myanmar Missions abroad are making efforts not only to impart information on the true situation of Myanmar to the people of host countries but also to harness soft power to make them aware of the positive developments of the country, such as richness in natural resources, culture, traditions, arts and beauty of the country and hospitality of its people. Making more tourists visit the country is also a good way to make them observe the true situation of the country.
Q: May I know what kind of support have been provided to Myanmar diplomats in order for them to perform their duties more efficiently and effectively?
A: The government has enhanced financial support for health and education of the diplomats and their families abroad to enable our diplomats to better concentrate on performing their duties in line with the guidance of the State Counsellor. During our Government’s tenure, we have already permitted health insurances for 24 missions out of 46 missions abroad.
Since the 2018-2019 fiscal year, we have been providing two-thirds of school fees to a total of 57 students from 5 to 18 years of age who are the children of our diplomats serving abroad in anticipation that they will be able to better contribute the country with the knowledge gained studying abroad. This is one of the significant arrangements by the government in support of smooth functioning of the diplomatic duties and responsibilities.
Moreover, for all Myanmar Missions to be on par with diplomatic standard and dignity, the renovation and reconstruction of new buildings of the Embassy premises have been made as one of the priorities. Those included construction of the Chancery, Residence of the Ambassador and housing for diplomats on state-owned land in Pretoria, South Africa, major renovation at the Consulate-General in Kunming, China, the Myanmar House of the Embassy in New Delhi, India and the Embassy buildings in Bangkok, Thailand and in Berlin, Germany.
Q: I would like to know whether you have any other additional points you wish to make as concluding remarks.
A: As I have mentioned earlier, our Ministry has been contributing towards the realisation of Government’s objectives through the conduct of international relations and cooperation. Although immediate and tangible outcomes of the diplomatic manoeuvrings are invisible, improvements in international relations will bring benefits to all the government agencies in terms of bilateral and multilateral support and assistance. We are enjoying the continued support of the international community in our endeavours for peace and democratization and all-inclusive socio-economic development of Myanmar.
We believe that positive developments at home play a pivotal role to achieve greater success in the diplomatic efforts at international arena. Our diplomats can hardly respond without tangible domestic progress. At present, we are doing our best to apprise the international community of the complexities of the ground situation that Myanmar is currently facing in addressing the issue of Rakhine State. At the same time, we need to work in unison with the people to reduce tensions among the different communities, to take actions against violations of human rights in accordance with our domestic laws, to successfully implement the repatriation process and to achieve a sustainable solution for the peace, stability and development of Rakhine State. Myanmar like any other country that has embarked on the path of transition is bound to face challenges. However, we have every confidence that with the collective strength of our people, we shall be able to overcome those challenges. Let me conclude by saying that the success of diplomatic efforts depends not merely on the diplomats but also on the participation and support of the people and all relevant institutions in bringing about on-ground improvements. Translated by MOFA