Mr. President,

Allow me at the outset to extend my warm felicitations to you on your assumption of the presidency of the fifty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly. Your vast experience and diplomatic skills augur well for the success of our deliberations.

I would also like to express our gratitude and appreciation to your predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Jan Kavan, for his invaluable contribution to the success of the last session of the General Assembly.

Our tribute also goes to our esteemed Secretary-General for his tireless efforts in leading the Organization through challenging times.

Mr. President,

We meet at a time when the world is faced with daunting challenges. In addition to the perennial problems of extreme poverty, spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation, we are faced with the challenge posed by new forms of terrorism.

We must confront all these challenges squarely if we are to fulfill the vision of global prosperity and collective security set out in the declaration of the Millennium Summit, three years ago.

The United Nations has a vital role to play in ensuring peace and security. Myanmar firmly believes that the Organization must be revitalized to accomplish our objectives. We cannot overcome the complex problems that beset our world without universal commitment to multilateralism and reaffirmation of faith in the central role of the United Nations in the promotion of global peace and security. The importance of multilateralism and the need for countries to strictly abide by the principles of international law cannot be overemphasized. Indeed, Member States, large and small, have an interest as well as a responsibility to uphold the Charter of the United Nations.

More than ever before, our world needs greater international solidarity and cooperation. In this respect, we welcome the intention of the Secretary-General to reform the United Nations into a more effective organization.

My delegation also shares the Secretary-General's concern that the use of force preemptively could set precedents that result in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification.

Mr. President,

Recent attacks by terrorists in Baghdad, Bali, Casablanca, Jakarta, Jerusalem, Mumbai and other places serve to remind us of the grim fact that the fight against terrorism is not over. It is evident that the use of force alone cannot wipe out terrorism. If we wish to achieve enduring results, we must address such fundamental problems as the persistence of extreme poverty,
disparity of income between and within countries, racial and religious prejudice and attempts by some countries to impose their values on small and developing countries.

Terrorism poses a common threat to mankind. It respects neither borders nor religion nor race. All nations must therefore join hands to meet the challenge posed by terrorists. It is only through increased cooperation at the national, regional and international levels that we can hope to overcome this menace.

I wish to reiterate that Myanmar is against all forms of terrorism. We have had bitter experiences with terrorism in our own country and we are firmly committed to work with the international community to prevent, counter and eliminate this terrible scourge of mankind.

Last month the terrorists brought their war to the doorsteps of our Organization when they attacked the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. They took the lives of 22 people, including that of Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, one of the most outstanding international civil servants. We join the rest of the world in paying tribute to his memory and profess our profound sadness over the loss of the life of the Special Representative and other lives in the unwarranted attack.

Mr. President,

I would now like to turn to recent political developments in my country.

Some have accused us of deliberately creating a political impasse in order to delay the transfer of power.

If one takes a close and objective look at the situation in the country, one will see that what needs to be done to effect a smooth transition to democracy is first and foremost to have the political will.

Let me assure you that we have the political will. We are firmly committed to bringing about a systematic transformation to democracy.

In the past, successive governments in Myanmar failed in their attempts to build a multiparty democratic system because they were unable to overcome the fundamental issues facing the nation -- the issue of peace and stability, the issue of national unity among all national races which number more than one hundred, the issue of economic development and the issue of human resources development. Attempts were made without first solving these fundamental problems. The country drifted and the people suffered.

The present Government, aware that fundamental issues must first be addressed, adopted a different approach. It laid down four political objectives:
- Establish peace and stability in the whole nation and ensure prevalence of law and order;
- Consolidate unity among all national races;
- Strive for a durable constitution; and
- Build a modern and democratic nation in keeping with the new constitution.

At the outset, an olive branch was extended to the armed groups that had been fighting the government for decades. Following successful negotiations these groups returned to the legal fold. National unity was achieved. Peace now reigns in the entire country, providing an opportunity for long neglected border areas to develop quickly. The gap between urban and rural areas has been narrowed. At the same time we have taken developmental initiatives to promote a better life for our peoples. We have worked tirelessly to provide better health care, education and housing for all our peoples.

We have had to rebuild the country from scratch.

Those who come to Myanmar will be able to observe first hand the immense transformations taking place in the country. As the adage goes, "Seeing is believing."

Today our people can look forward to the future with confidence and renewed hope. Now that firm foundations have been laid, we have moved on to the next phase to commence work on the drafting of a new constitution and to build a modern democratic nation in keeping with it.

The new Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt, who was appointed on 25 August 2003 outlined a road map for the transition to democracy. The seven-step programme includes:

- Reconvening of the National Convention that has been adjourned since 1996;
- After the successful holding of the National Convention, step by step implementation of the process necessary for the emergence of a genuine and disciplined democratic system;
- Drafting of a new constitution in accordance with basic principles and detailed
basic principles laid down by the National Convention;
- Adoption of the constitution through national referendum;
- Holding of free and fair elections for Pyithu Hluttaws (Legislative bodies)
according to the new constitution;
- Convening of Hluttaws attended by Hluttaw members in accordance with the new constitution; and
- Building a modern, developed and democratic nation by the state leaders elected by the Hluttaw; and the government and other central organs formed by the Hluttaw.

All strata of the population in the country have adopted a unified approach and supported the road map.

Mr. President,

In recent weeks, Myanmar has taken substantial steps on the road to democracy. It is important that the international community recognize the positive changes. Credit must be given where credit is due.

Myanmar is working to ensure an environment in which we can achieve our objectives. The people of Myanmar are enthusiastic about consolidating the progress achieved so far.

At the same time we seek to maintain good and friendly relations with all countries in the region and the world so that we can thrive and prosper. We have never posed a security threat to any neighbour and have always sought to promote regional peace and stability and the common weal of all our nations.

It is disconcerting that some countries have chosen to turn a blind eye to the reality and have subjected Myanmar to a wide array of unfair economic sanctions for their political ends. These unilateral coercive measures not only go against the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations but also violate international law and rules of the international trade. They are intrinsically unfair and only add to the hardships of the people already marginalized by globalization.

Countries that place a high premium on democracy and human rights have a responsibility to live up to the noble ideals in relation with others. Our common aspirations for peace and development can only be fulfilled if nations avoid double standards and adopt a more positive attitude.

Mr. President,

We live in challenging and dangerous times. Conflicts and tensions in various parts of the world threaten global peace and security. Transnational crimes and new forms of terrorism also add to our problems.

Yet it is in our power to make the world a better place.

Here, it is pertinent to recall what I stated last year in these hallowed chambers. If we want to ensure a better future for mankind we must heed the teachings of the great religions of the world. Every religion calls for tolerance, understanding and compassion for fellow human beings. Only when we can overcome anger and hatred and do away with false pride and prejudice will we succeed in establishing a world in which peace and justice prevail.

All conflicts, rivalries and hostilities have their roots in hatred and enmity. We must try to overcome them. We should all try to build a global order, where the strong will not impose their will on the weak, where democracy prevails not only within nations but also in the international arena. Let us work together, as a family of nations, to overcome the serious common challenges we face.

Thank you.