Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Opening remarks at press encounter following departure from Myanmar

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bangkok (Thailand), 04 July 2009

Good evening. Thank you for coming to meet me at this late hour of the day.

As you know, I have just come from a two-day visit to Myanmar. I met twice the Senior General Than Shwe, and I had discussions with other government officials.

I also met with leaders of Myanmar's registered political parties and with those former armed groups that have chosen to observe a cease-fire.

This morning I also had time to visit Kyon Da Village in the Irrawaddy Delta to see the results of recovery and reconstruction work.

Let me first address my meetings with Senior General Than Shwe.

As you know by now, I asked to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

I am deeply disappointed that Senior General Than Shwe refused my request. Allowing a visit to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would have been an important symbol of the government's willingness to embark on the kind of meaningful engagement that will be essential if the elections in 2010 are to be seen as credible.

I believe the Government of Myanmar failed to take a unique opportunity to show its commitment to a new era of political openness.

Nonetheless, my visit has enabled me to convey the concerns of the international community very frankly and directly to Senior General Than Shwe and his Government.

My meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, however, should not be seen as the only benchmark for success or failure of my visit. Because I believe that there are many more fundamental issues which we addressed, during the visit, which [will] help move Myanmar forward.

The members of the international community wanted me to tell Myanmar's leaders that the international community stands ready to help the people of Myanmar achieve their legitimate aspirations.

This is why I went to Myanmar, and this is what we did.

I told Senior General Than Shwe that the international community wants to help Myanmar to achieve democracy, national reconciliation, durable peace and sustainable development.

And I emphasized that neither peace nor development can thrive without democracy and respect for human rights.

I outlined my proposals for progress.

I told Senior General Than Shwe that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners should be released without delay and allowed to participate freely in the political process.

I said I wanted to see resumption of substantive and time-bound dialogue between the Government and Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy at the higher level of engagement.

I set out detailed criteria for a conducive environment for free and fair elections in 2010. Only then will the elections be seen as credible and legitimate.

I have urged them to publish as soon as possible the electoral law and establish an electoral commission and set a date or month for the election in 2010. I discussed the establishment of a broad-based national economic forum to address Myanmar's development needs.

I also discussed the practical issues related to humanitarian assistance, especially the swift issuance of visas.

I discussed, as well, the expansion of humanitarian assistance beyond the Delta area.

These are all areas where I expect the Myanmar Government to demonstrate progress in the very near future.

Finally, before I left for the airport, I spoke to an audience of Myanmar senior Government officials, diplomats, local and international non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies. It was a huge gathering. I delivered a wide-ranging speech setting out my messages for Myanmar – on national reconciliation, human rights and democracy, on humanitarian assistance and on economic progress.

Today, before I came here, I had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Thailand and I briefed him on my visit to Myanmar, and I'm going to continue to engage with the members of the Group of Friends on Myanmar. My Special Adviser Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari, upon his return to New York, is going to convene the Group of Friends on Myanmar and brief the members there that we will continue to follow up with the Myanmar authorities on the progress of the issues which I have discussed with the Myanmar authorities.

I again thank you for your attention and will welcome a few questions. Thank you very much.