Interview with a representative from the ASEAN Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Myanmar’s stance and cooperation with ASEAN in the implementation of the ASEAN five-point consensus

ASEAN
Chairman of the State Administration Council, Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing attends the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24-4-2021 held at the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Q – Could you please explain how the ASEAN five-point consensus evolved?
A – His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Chairman of ASEAN for 2021, extended an invitation to the Chairman of the State Administration Council, Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing for attending the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24-4-2021 at the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, Indonesia, which was convened in-person after more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, that informal meeting was called under the name of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting to discuss the internal political developments of Myanmar.
The meeting was held with three agendas; (1) ASEAN Community Building, (2) ASEAN’s External Relations, and (3) Exchange of views on Regional and International Issues. At the meeting, the Chairman of the State Administration Council reiterated Myanmar’s commitment to work closely with the chair, including all ASEAN Member States, to successfully achieve the chair’s deliverables aiming for a resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 and for further progress towards the ASEAN Community building efforts. The Chairman of the State Administration Council also comprehensively apprised the meeting of the recent developments in Myanmar, especially on the reason why the Tatmadaw had constitutionally assumed the State’s responsibilities on 1 February 2021, handling of protests in maximum restraints, and the structure, future programmes and works of the State Administration Council.
ASEAN Leaders also exchanged views on the current situation and some suggestions were highlighted in the Chairman’s Statement at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting. In response to the suggestions made by ASEAN Leaders, the Chairman of the State Administration Council informed the meeting on three points; (1) Myanmar will consider carefully some constructive suggestions made by ASEAN Leaders based on evolving domestic situation of the country, (2) As Myanmar prioritizes to maintain law and order and to restore community peace and tranquillity, Myanmar will consider some suggestions based on the national interests of the country (3) the suggestions will be positively considered if it would facilitate the implementation of the Five-Step Road Map laid down by the State Administration Council and are based on the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN Way and ASEAN Spirit. Those points were issued in the press statement on 26 April 2021.
The Chair of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting released the Chairman’s Statement where the ASEAN five-point consensus was annexed mentioning the immediate cessation of violence, commencement of a constructive dialogue among all parties concerned, the appointment of a special envoy of the ASEAN Chair, provisions of humanitarian assistance through the AHA Centre and the visit of the special envoy to Myanmar.
In fact, the then ASEAN Chair did not officially inform or negotiate with other ASEAN Member States on the issuance of the five-point consensus. Therefore, we can hardly call it a consensus reached among the ASEAN Member States through negotiation and formal adoption. Nevertheless, Myanmar is fully committed to cooperating with other ASEAN Member States in implementing the five-point consensus based on ASEAN’s fundamental principles.

Q – What is Myanmar’s official position on the ASEAN five-point consensus?
A – The ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting was held on 24-4-2021 in Jakarta not as a regular ASEAN Summit but as an informal ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting. The issuance of the five-point consensus was not informed in advance and it was released as an annexe of the Chairman’s Statement of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting. In this regard, Myanmar views the ASEAN five-point consensus as not a legally binding document but a proposal based on constructive suggestions of ASEAN family members to implement and cooperate as much as possible in accordance with the national interests of the concerned member state. The Information Team of the State Administration Council publicly declared Myanmar’s official positions at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting through a Press Release on 26-4-2021.
The precis of the Press Release on the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting is; Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Chairman of the State Administration Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services attended the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting which was held at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 24 April 2021 at the invitation of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam; at the Meeting, the Chairman of the State Administration Council reiterated Myanmar’s commitment to work closely with the chair, including all ASEAN Member States, to successfully achieve chair’s deliverables aiming for a resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 and for further progress toward the ASEAN Community building efforts; the Chairman of the State Administration Council also apprised the Meeting of the recent developments in Myanmar especially on the reason why the Tatmadaw had constitutionally assumed the State’s responsibilities on 1 February 2021, handling of protests with maximum restraints, and the structure, future programmes and activities of the State Administration Council comprehensively; ASEAN Leaders also exchanged views on the current situation which some suggestions were highlighted in the Chairman’s Statement on the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting; in response to some of the suggestions made by ASEAN Leaders, Myanmar informed the Meeting that it will give careful consideration to constructive suggestions made by ASEAN Leaders when the situation returns to stability in the country since priorities at the moment were to maintain law and order and to restore community peace and tranquility; in this regard, Myanmar also informed the Meeting that the suggestions would be positively considered if it would facilitate the implementation of the five-step road map laid down by the State Administration Council, serves the interests of the country and was based on the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN Way and ASEAN Spirit; Myanmar also suggested ASEAN Leaders to thoroughly review the information booklet circulated at the Meeting before comments are made relating to the current political situation in Myanmar.
As mentioned above, Myanmar is fully and closely cooperating with ASEAN not only in implementing the five-point consensus but also in the ASEAN Community Building efforts despite imposing targeted pressures on Myanmar based on groundless accusations and allegations of ASEAN’s division on the Myanmar issue. Those one-sided allegations are totally groundless, and biased and would not lead to a constructive approach and solution but only worsen the already-existed misperceptions against Myanmar.

To Be Continued

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