Respected Chairperson of the Conference Panel, members of the panel, leaders of the various groups, all representatives attending the conference, I send these good wishes so that all your good wishes would be fulfilled.
Among the people who are watching the scene of signing the Union Accord Part III today, there may be some who might be recalling the past conferences and negotiations. During the period of more than four years, all of us invested our physical and spiritual strength to achieve the best outcome. When we were not able to get agreement on important points at the UPDJC meeting during the period of the 21st Century Panglong Second Session, I saw in the eyes of some of the ethnic national leaders their sense of disappointment. At that time, I gave words of encouragement telling them not to feel disappointed or dejected and told them that we should all continue to try in the forthcoming conferences. If possible, all of us wanted a lot of agreements. However, I want all of you to take note that these are problems which have been with us since the time of our independence as long as our lifetimes. That is why we had to spend adequate time to achieve proper understanding and also, we had to discuss in detail to achieve satisfaction.
It may be said that three days of this conference is short; however, what was signed today – Part III of the Union Accord was not achieved easily. This agreement was achieved with great difficulty during the time when we were responding to protect and control COVID-19; like in all peace processes, we encountered highs and lows as well as ups and downs; we had to give time to ensure that both sides were satisfied. This is a testimony to the strength of the 21st Century Panglong Programme for Political Negotiations; it also serves as a valuable record of the good political intentions, determination and indomitable spirit of all those who participated in this process.
Part III of the Union Accord, which we signed today is more significant, is deeper in meaning and is full of essence. In Part I of this agreement, we were able to provide a path and a door for solving problems of understanding related to the NCA and difficulties being encountered during the NCA implementation.
In Part II of the Union Accord which relates to the step by step programmes and step by step implementation, we now find not only the search for basic principles but also find work programmes for establishing the Union step by step. As we negotiate step by step, we can implement the (51) basic principles which all of us have agreed upon, as needed.
Part III of the Union Accord depicts in detail what kind of Union we want to have; this is the kind of Union we can envision in the future; the kind of Union we wish to see; it portrays with basic guiding principles the type Union we want to see emerge.
Today, at this time, no one can doubt that our country, our Union, is going to be established as a Democratic Federal Union. We have also reached, agreement as to how we will proceed with regard to Part III of the Union Accord, what steps to take and what work programmes to follow. What we still need to discuss for the future is a detailed programme with timelines that will show where we need to be, at what time, in what kind of situation.
In developed countries where they have peace and stability, they have unity, although there may be differences of opinion. You will see that all countries which can establish unity no matter whatever amount of differences of opinion they might have are peaceful, stable and developed. The ability to work together cooperatively despite different views and different opinions is the ability to find a common belief. It is natural that different views and opinions will exist.
It is known to everyone that the different opinions we have to solve are deep and broad and historic in nature; that is why they are difficult to solve. However, at this conference, we have been able to find unity in spite of our different opinions. This is Part III of the Union Accord which has been signed today. Our 21st Century Panglong was able to seek out commonalities among differences and unity among opposite tendencies. This has been signed by leaders of various groups in front of the representatives attending this conference and witnesses; this will go down in the annals of history.
My first message to the conference is about ‘new plan beyond 2020 for developing a Democratic Federal Union’. We have got a lot of experiences in peace talks, political dialogues and joint monitoring processes on the ceasefire, as well as the strong points and weak points in peacemaking processes over the past four years. The three steps for this process have been announced at the opening ceremony of this conference. Implementation of these three steps will be effectively and efficiently carried out by the ‘new plan beyond 2020 for developing a Democratic Federal Union’ in the post-2020, based on the recommendations and the views of relevant stakeholders in the peace process.
The new plan will ensure the effective implementation of the Union Accord Part III, while it will support for strengthening UPDJC and JMC in accordance with the NCA. It could also pave the way for non-signatories of NCA. The new plan could provide technical assistance to the representatives of negotiation groups at various levels of peace talks. Moreover, it could explore pragmatic ways to solve political problems. It is the first priority in the post-2020.
The second point is ‘shaping the character of a Union with common agreements of national people’. The processes for the implementation of NCA framework agreement Section 1 of the Union Accord Part III has mentioned that ‘All national people are responsible for creating a value of the Union that encompasses national people and their languages by recognizing background history, traditional culture, literature, languages and national traits of national people living in the Union’.
The term ‘value of Union in this paragraph defines ‘a single Union in unity’. It is an extraordinarily important point. The Union, with this value, needs to be implemented in the post-2020.
The third point is to continue holding dialogues. Although the NCA has been already signed, armed clashes occurred in some areas, and the fighting in these areas intensified. Similarly, some groups left the peace talks as they failed to break the deadlocks over political agreements. Meanwhile, our government reached these groups and listened to their disappointments and their needs.
Then, we had to find ways to solve the underlying causes of the problems and held many informal negotiations with them again. Only when a common agreement has been reached with relevant groups, formal meetings were arranged. It is our experience in trying for great achievement. I strongly urged all the stakeholders to continue the way in finding solutions by the exchange of views at the meetings despite whatever challenges may encounter all beyond the conference or 2020.
In conclusion, I sincerely express thanks to the chairperson conference and its members of his delegation, the leaders of respective groups and representatives of the conference. We all have known that there are a lot of rules and directives for health at the conference as it was held under the preventive measures against the COVID-19. I fully appreciate the cooperation of all persons in adhering to these rules.
All the attendees at the conference have tested negative for COVID-19 and that they could attend the event without any worry. However, it is required to keep on following the healthcare rules as the pandemic is still making a threat.
I conclude my speech with kind wishes to the conference chairperson, members of his delegation, leaders of groups and representatives for being free from COVID-19, being healthy and wealthy in order to join your hands firmly in trying for national reconciliation, peace and development of a Democratic Federal Union.
Thank you all.
(Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)