ASEAN Foreign Ministers reiterate continued support to Myanmar’s efforts to bring peace, stability, the rule of law and to promote harmony and reconciliation in Rakhine State
The Myanmar Delegation led by U Kyaw Tin, Union Minister for International Cooperation, attended the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and its Related Ministerial Meetings held in Bangkok, Thailand from 30th July to 3rd August 2019.
While in Bangkok, the Union Minister attended Interface Meeting with Representatives of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Meeting of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Commission and Working Dinner of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers on 30th July 2019. At the Working Dinner, the Ministers also informally exchanged views, among others, on the implementation of the Preliminary Needs Assessment (PNA) report relating to Rakhine State.
At the Working Dinner, the Union Minister informed the Meeting about the visit to Cox’s Bazar of the Myanmar High-Level delegation to share the information on arrangements made for prospective returnees, steps taken to form a Technical Working Group comprising of officials from Myanmar, ASEAN Secretariat and AHA Centre, to implement the recommendations made in the report of the Preliminary Needs Assessment, ongoing cooperation with UNDP and UNHCR to create a conducive environment for the returnees and efforts made by the Myanmar Government for the repatriation. The ASEAN Ministers agreed to the proposal made by the Secretary-General of ASEAN to set up an Ad Hoc Unit to help with the implementation of the recommendations of the PNA Mission.
On 31st July, the Union Minister paid a joint courtesy call on Mr. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, together with other ASEAN Foreign Ministers. Then, the Union Minister attended Opening Ceremony of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Plenary and Retreat Sessions of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), Signing Ceremony of the Instruments of Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) by Peru and ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) with China, Russia and New Zealand.
On 1st August, the Union Minster attended ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMC) with Australia, Japan, India, Canada, the United States, European Union and Republic of Korea. At the ASEAN-Canada Ministerial Meeting, Union Minister U Kyaw Tin co-chaired the Meeting with Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. In the evening, the Union Minister attended Gala Dinner hosted by the Foreign Minister of Thailand.
On 2nd August, the Union Minister attended the 20th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Retreat and Plenary Sessions of 26th ASEAN Regional Forum.
At the 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Retreat of the 26th ASEAN Regional Forum, Ministers made reference to the complex humanitarian situation in Rakhine. The Ministers stressed the importance of addressing the root causes of the problem and creating a conducive environment for the returnees. They also welcomed the report of the PNA Mission and the visit of Myanmar High-Level delegation to Cox’s Bazar to share the information on arrangements made by Myanmar for prospective returnees. They encouraged ASEAN to continue its efforts to help Myanmar in addressing the humanitarian situation in Rakhine. They also encouraged Myanmar and Bangladesh to continue constructive and effective dialogue to facilitate the repatriation process.
Union Minister U Kyaw Tin briefed both Meetings on Myanmar’s efforts to address the situation in Rakhine State. In his briefing, the Union Minister stated that Rakhine issue is just one of many challenges facing Myanmar in its efforts for democratic transition, peace and national reconciliation and development. He added that the world is focusing on just this issue, due to wrongful mischaracterisation of the issue as a religious one. He made it clear that it is neither an issue of religious persecution nor an issue of driving one ethnic group out of the country. But it was an issue with deep-rooted history involving irregular cross-border migration, as there had been three waves of illegal mass migrations into Myanmar since the time of colonial period and it is therefore, imperative to solve the issue bilaterally. He stressed that the world should not overlook that the recent mass displacement into Bangladesh side was triggered by provocative, coordinated attacks of ARAS terror group against multiple police outposts in October 2016 and August 2017. He refuted that the number of the displaced persons claimed by the Bangladesh side as 1.2 million is too much inflated and have to be verified and confirmed. He also stated that the Government of Myanmar has been addressing the accountability issue through the Independence Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) which has yet to receive permission from Bangladesh to visit Cox’s Bazar.
Then, the Union Minister stated that the Government of Myanmar is committed to make efforts to bring peace, security and development for all communities in Rakhine State as effectively as possible. He reaffirmed Myanmar’s readiness to receive the verified displaced persons in accordance with the bilateral agreements. He added that the issue of citizenship would be addressed in line with the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law and they need to undergo verification process to apply for citizenship. He also updated the Meetings of the visit of Myanmar High-Level delegation comprising representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat, AHA Centre and ASEAN-ERAT to Cox’s Bazar to share the information on arrangements made for the returnees and then informed that such arrangement would be continued in the future. The Union Minister also apprised the Meeting of Myanmar’s effort to create conducive environment for the returnees in cooperation with ASEAN and the United Nations Agencies, ensuring that ASEAN’s projects were not to sideline the works of UN but to complement and reinforce each other.
The Union Minister also pointed out that the issue of Rakhine State is a complex one which requires time and space to build trust and harmony among communities and to educate all communities to live harmoniously.
He added that if both neighbours, Myanmar and Bangladesh, strictly follow the bilateral agreements, the repatriation could be made a success, as has been done in the past. He also informed the Meetings of Myanmar’s readiness to resolve the issue in accordance with the bilateral agreements, his invitation extended to the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh to visit Myanmar to discuss the issue and the agreement to continue holding of trilateral Ministerial Meeting among Myanmar, Bangladesh and China. He also highlighted the importance of avoiding measures that could worsen the situation and drive the communities farther apart, and welcomed any partners who really wish to facilitate Myanmar’s effort in bringing the conflicting communities together and finding a sustainable solution to the issue.
The Union Minister also attended the 12th Lower Mekong Initiatives (LMI) Ministerial Meeting, 10th Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) Ministerial Meeting, 9th Mekong-Republic of Korea Ministerial Meeting, and 12th Mekong-Japan Ministerial Meeting.
While in Bangkok, the Union Minister had bilateral meetings with Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Norway and Republic of Korea as well as High Representative of European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission. During the bilateral meetings, the Union Minister discussed issues of mutual interests and promotion of bilateral relations.
At the end of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the Joint Communiqué of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was issued. In the Joint Communique, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers, among others, welcomed the recent visit of High-Level Mission led by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar together with representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat and the AHA Centre, including an ASEAN-ERAT member, to Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh to share the information on arrangement made by Myanmar for prospective returnees. They welcomed the extension of the MOU between Myanmar, UNHCR and UNDP . They also look forward to the continued and effective dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh to facilitate the repatriation process. They also reaffirmed ASEAN’s support for Myanmar’s efforts to bring peace, stability, the rule of law, to promote harmony and reconciliation among the various communities as well as to ensure sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State.
Ministry of International Cooperation
Dated. 3 August 2019.