Secretary-General's joint press encounter with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
New York, 21 September 2012
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and profound honour for me to welcome Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
When I was visiting Myanmar a few months ago, she welcomed me very kindly to her home, residence, in Yangon. At that time we discussed the possibility of her visiting the United Nations. I invited her to visit the United Nations. In fact, she was staff of the United Nations, and I would like to welcome her home.
Her commitment for peace and security and human rights is well-known worldwide. She is now a global symbol of human rights. Now, she is returning, not only as General Secretary of the NLD [National League for Democracy], but now as a member of the Myanmar Parliament, and also in her capacity as Chairperson of the Committee of the Rule of Law and Stability. This is quite important, and in that regard, she can continue to help the Myanmar people and many other people around the world who may be experiencing the same hardships and abuse of human rights like herself and the Myanmar people have been enduring.
We have great expectations and hope that she will lead this path of reconciliation and greater participatory democracy and development of her country, together with President Thein Sein of Myanmar.
In that regard, I pay my great tribute to President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They have been walking together down the path of reconciliation and political stability and democracy and human rights, and I really count on her continuing support.
I am also grateful for her participation in the global Education First initiative, which I am going to [launch] on Wednesday, September 26th. We discussed a lot on how the United Nations and the Myanmar Government and herself, as now a political leader, can work together for democraticization. And as you may remember, when I was visiting [Myanmar], I had a good discussion with President Thein Sein and we agreed on six points to help the Myanmar Government. All of these are on track, including normalization of the United Nations’ activities – UNDP [United Nations Development Programme], the UN Country Team there – and helping the first-ever, in 30 years, a census of population and housing, and also helping this country to eliminate drugs and [promote] socio-economic development, etcetera. This will be our continuing priority to work with the Myanmar Government. In that, we count on Daw Aung Suu Kyi’s continuing commitment and leadership, and we have great expectations of your leadership and I really thank you. And let us work together for your country’s democraticization and many other countries and peoples who may look to you, to your leadership and vision. Thank you very much.
DASSK: I don’t have very much to say except that I don’t recognize the place. I’m told that this wasn’t here when I was working at the United Nations, but I’m very, very glad to be back, and I’d be very happy to take any questions that you have.
Q: You have become a worldwide symbol of your country, and I wonder how you are balancing this with the new government that is putting, has put your country on the path to democracy, especially with the President himself coming here to the United Nations. Are you concerned about possibly outshining him in the work that he is doing?
DASSK: I don’t think we should think about this in terms of personalities. I think we should think about it as a common goal. If we all want to achieve genuine democracy for Burma, we have to learn to work together and not think about our impact as personalities, either in our country or in the world at large.
Q: Could you tell us a little about your meeting with President [Barack] Obama this week? And also your reaction to the US announcement that it will lift fully sanctions on Burma.
DASSK: I generally do not discuss private exchanges, so I will not discuss what I discussed with President Obama. But I was very happy to be able to meet him and I considered it a good meeting. And I am happy that sanctions are now being lifted because as I have been saying – rather ad nauseum – it is time now that the Burmese people took responsibility for their democratization of the country. I am very, very appreciative of what the US Congress has done for many years to support our movement, but now we have to try to work on our own, of course, with the continuing support and help of friends.
Q: Today is International Peace Day and the Secretary-General also gave a speech in this morning’s ceremony. As the 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate, how do you feel about this?
DASSK: With regard to peace, I think peace begins in the hearts of people. So, if we want peace, we’ve got to remove hatred. There can be no peace with hatred. Only without hatred can we achieve peace. So, if you want peace, you’ve got to try to do your best, in every way possible, to remove hatred from the hearts of human beings.
SG: Thank you very much.