Thank you for being here.
I am pleased to note that, at my invitation, the Government of Myanmar is represented for the first time. I want to extend a special welcome to the Minister of Immigration and Population Affairs H.E. U Khin Yi.
Over the past few years, we have all recognized the remarkable gains in Myanmar’s reform process.
I have welcomed President Thein Sein’s renewed commitment to bring the country together towards peace, democracy and an open market economy. I have also highlighted his call on all citizens of Myanmar to refrain from doing anything that would jeopardize this nascent transition.
Myanmar continues a journey towards a more open and broad-based democracy. Its robust civil society will play an increasingly crucial role as a bridge between government and citizens, in the process strengthening accountability, transparency and participation.
Since the current government took office, ten amnesties have been announced. The President’s commitment to release all political prisoners by the end of the year is very encouraging.
A healthy respect for space between Myanmar’s legislative and executive branches and increased interface between them and civil society will lay the foundation for an inclusive political culture.
As I have emphasized, much of this progress could be undermined if the threat of communal disturbances and violent confrontation between religious and ethnic groups is not addressed effectively including by looking at the root cause of the conflicts.
The situation remains fragile, and President Thein Sein and his advisers have made clear public statements and taken key initial steps to re-build communal harmony and trust.
In particular, there have been strong calls against the dissemination of hate literature, to uphold the rule of law and to hold accountable those responsible for any violence.
I also welcome recent moves to engage more actively, openly and constructively with regional partners and other members of the international community, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. This is vital as it will serve to assuage real anxieties about the condition of the Muslim minority within the country and help prevent the spill-over of tensions.
I recognize strides on recovery and rehabilitation and efforts to improve the lives of affected communities.
But there is still much to be done to ensure accountability for the perpetrators and restitution for those who have suffered.
The fears, vulnerabilities and suspicions of the minority community have yet to be fully alleviated, and addressing the grievances of the Rohingyas, including the question of their citizenship, will be of the utmost importance.
I also hope that the positive engagement between the Myanmar authorities and armed ethnic groups will result in a nationwide ceasefire very soon. However, genuine and sustainable peace will also require appropriate constitutional arrangements for power and resource sharing.
In this broad context, the United Nations will stand ready to continue scaling up its support activities to the Government and all key stakeholders as requested.
We are ready to facilitate greater assistance in critical areas such as the 2015 elections, the rule of law, human rights, humanitarian assistance, socio-economic development, anti-corruption, police reform and judicial practice.
In parallel, I recognize the many bilateral initiatives and offers of support. I hope this will continue so that Myanmar will able to further consolidate its reform process.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please join me once again in welcoming our friends from Myanmar at this meeting. Their participation is a reflection of the positive transition taking place in the country.
Over the years, we here have discussed the need to reconfigure this Group to better reflect the changes in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s participation today provides an occasion to consider the future role for our Group.
To start with, I suggest a new name: the ‘Partnership Group for Peace, Development and Democracy in Myanmar.”
I also recommend we consider expanding our membership to include a few more interested Member States and members of the United Nations family.
I look forward to hearing your views on these and other issues.
Before opening up the discussion, I would now like to invite H.E. U Khin Yi to provide remarks on behalf of Myanmar.