Being a diplomat is the greatest adventure of my life

Interview with Mr Htuann Naung, Chargé d’Affaires of Myanmar

“Myanmar is the largest inland area within the Southeast Asia region, with 56 million people. It offers an incredible cultural variety and its diverse beauty ranges from snow-capped Himalayan mountaintops to vast underwater reefs.
I would like to extend my invitation to the people of Czechia to visit Myanmar,” says Mr Htuann Naung, Chargé d’Affaires of Myanmar, adding: “I am certain that in the future we can further strengthen the friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.”

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am currently taking responsibility as the Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Prague in the capacity of Chargé d’ Affaires. Although I graduated in Veterinary Medicine, I decided in the end to serve my country and our people as a diplomat since I have always been interested in this field. That is also why I studied International Relations and Diplomacy at the Australian National University in Canberra. This is my second time in Europe, as I had previously attended the Federal Foreign Service Academy of Germany in 2010 for diplomatic training. I came to Prague together with my beloved wife.

You have been in the Czech Republic for about a year now. What are some of your impressions?
I arrived in this glorious city, Prague, on 7th August 2023. Since then, I have been enjoying life in this passionate country while learning about its history, culture, lifestyle, legendary traditional cuisine, well-preserved countryside with beautiful national parks, vast fields and gorges, as well as the heritage values of the Czech people. I am also impressed by the preservation of historical monuments, castles, and chateaus in this central European country, as well as its prestigious production of beer, crystals, and so on. Indeed, I have much respect for the technological advancements and innovative creativity here. Living in Prague is amazing! Its flowing river, famed bridges, and narrow cobbled streets are breathtaking and charming. The views of iconic sights such as Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and elegant Wenceslas Square are an integral part of my daily working life now.

Myanmar is still rather an exotic and little-known country for Czechs. Would you like to give us some basic facts?
My country is famous for its rich history, culture, and lovely smiling people, as well as its natural resources such as oil, natural gas, teak, jade, gems, and other minerals. It is the largest inland area within the Southeast Asia region with 56 million people, neighbouring Bangladesh, India, China, Lao PDR, and Thailand. Myanmar is also known as “the golden land”, radiant with a crown of shimmering gold. It offers an incredible cultural variety and its diverse beauty ranges from snow-capped Himalayan mountaintops to vast underwater reefs. In 1948, we gained independence from Britain. Afterwards, peace, union spirit, and solidarity played vital roles in the interests of the state and its people. Under the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar, the country practices a parliamentary-based multiparty democratic system. Ancient cities and historical sites across the country provide proof of the development of past civilizations and king dynasties. The country is recognized for having many colourful and exciting festivals throughout the year.

Myanmar is also a member of the ASEAN group. What activities does this organization engage in?
Of course, Myanmar is one of the members of ASEAN, sharing our belief in creating a peaceful and prosperous place together for our people. Myanmar has been actively participating and contributing to ASEAN in our efforts to reach our common goals successfully and build one fine community to closely collaborate with other regional partners and multilateral institutions, including the European Union.
Here, we have the ASEAN-Prague Committee of the six embassies of ASEAN member countries in order to promote the image of ASEAN, share common views between ASEAN and EU, and enhance culture, food, and public diplomacy with the government of the Czech Republic. Last year, our committee conducted several events such as ASEAN Day, the ASEAN+3 Film Festival, a donation to the Czech Food Bank Federation, several engagements with both central and local Czech governments, a series of seminars and roundtable discussions in universities, and culture and food promotion and awareness activities across the country.

Does your personal lifestyle fit your diplomatic role well?
I can definitely say that there is an excellent match between my career and my dream lifestyle. A few years after my graduation, I made the best choice ever and decided to join the Foreign Service – after realizing what my assumptions and perceptions were. Being a diplomat motivates me to put all my energy into my daily work and take joy in performing diplomacy. There are different approaches to a diplomat’s life, but I am sure that the way I execute my duties is in line with my motivation and dreams.

What is the best adventure your diplomatic career has brought you?
A diplomat’s life itself has been the greatest adventure of my life. I have some great memories of taking part in peace negotiations, conference diplomacy, and multilateral engagements, as well as diplomacy in hard times. I believe that learning from every single experience makes every little piece unforgettable for all diplomats.

How do you spend your free time?
Exploring my nearest surroundings is one of my favourite activities to do in my spare time. It always allows me to learn something new about the host country and to travel in order to observe the nature, history, and beautiful hearts of the local people. Reading also helps me think outside the box and use my imagination.
Keeping myself fit and active by attending the gym is also an option.

Do you promote your country as a holiday destination?
Concerning tourism, Myanmar is surely a destination country for world travellers. There are so many charming places to be explored. I would like to extend my invitation to the people of Czechia to visit Myanmar. Enjoying every experience in my country in the most authentic way will be a lifetime memory for everybody. Myanmar — be enchanted! We offer a really unique Asian culture that differs from many other destinations, with towering mountains and untouched islands scattered with sparkling pagodas, British colonial architectural heritage sites, and much more to delve into.

What is the current status of Czech-Myanmar relations?
Our countries established diplomatic relations on 3rd January 1956, and it will be the 70th anniversary soon. With Czechoslovakia at the time, we had established extensive economic relations.
There are factories producing tyres, tractors, and fuel injection systems for engines, as well as a sugar mill, a brewery, and a hydropower station in Myanmar, all built by Czech companies. Both countries have great opportunities to cooperate, especially in agriculture, science and technology, the health sector, education, tourism, environmental conservation, and heritage site preservation. Nowadays, hundreds of Myanmar students are currently studying in the Czech Republic at different universities, ranging from engineering to economics, international relations to the sciences. We have been maintaining and promoting cooperation in all possible areas for the benefit of both countries and citizens. I believe there are many matters we could work out together in order to promote bilateral relations and harmonious development.

This interview is done on the occasion of your national day. What do you wish for your country? And for the Czech Republic?
Our Independence Day, or National Day, commemorates the importance of the territory, sovereignty, and national identity of our country. This year, we are celebrating the 78th anniversary of gaining our own independent status and rights. I wish peace and well-being to all the citizens of Myanmar and urge them to work together to shape a Union based on trueness, democracy, and federalism in order to forge the strength of our national unity. Although the country encountered different terrible dangers that posed threats to the disintegration of the Union and sovereignty, our Union spirit and solidarity will always be essential to us and to the new generations. As far as the Czech Republic is concerned, I am certain that in the future, we can further strengthen the friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries, as well as construct bilateral cooperation in various areas for the benefit of our peoples and in the interests of strengthening stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

 

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