Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at press encounter following the meeting of the Group of Friends on Myanmar

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 23 April 2012

Good evening.

I have just concluded a very productive meeting of my Group of Friends on Myanmar.

As you know, this Group has been a source of consistent support for my efforts in our engagement with Myanmar.

We have come to what I believe is a critical moment in Myanmar’s transition. And now is the time for the international community to stand together at Myanmar’s side.

We have seen encouraging political and economic reforms over the past year-and-a-half. The recent elections were a landmark. We have seen important steps toward reform and reconciliation. We see Myanmar re-opening to the world.

Yet we also recognize: this fresh start is still fragile.

Myanmar is only at the beginning of its transition. Many challenges lie ahead. Many concerns have yet to be addressed.

Yet I am convinced that we have an unprecedented opportunity to help the country advance toward a better future.

That is why, today, I am announcing that I have accepted an invitation from President Thein Sein to visit Myanmar. I will depart at the end of this week.

When I began my second term as UN Secretary-General, I identified several [generational] imperatives for our times. One of them was assisting nations in transition. In Myanmar, we have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to do that.

We must make the most of this moment.

I welcome the positive international response so far. That includes, in particular, the suspension of sanctions announced today by the European Union and similar steps announced earlier by the United States and others. We need to see more such progress, more international support for Mynamar’s efforts to reform and bring about democratic change.

My trip to Myanmar will build on my two earlier visits — the first in 2008, after Cyclone Nargis, and the second in 2009.

On this visit, I look forward to personally congratulating President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Working together, they have come far. Working together, I am confident that they will go further still.

And together, we will explore the many tangible and practical ways in which the UN can help. The government of Myanmar and its people have embarked on a path of reconciliation, democratization and development to build a better future for all. They deserve our full support.

Thank you very much.