MOFA: Jun 25, 2001 at Yangon, MOFA – by Secretary – 1

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Heads of Department,
Trainees attending the Course,
Distinguished Guests,

A study of the present international situation will show that in this fast changing world of ours, nations and regions of the world are becoming more and more inter dependent on one another. The galloping pace of globalization also means that the economies of the world are linked more closely together and the impact of a decision or an event in a region or even in a country can be felt around the world. Moreover, it can be said that the rapid advances in information and communication technology (ICT) have also transformed the world into a truly global village.
Under such circumstances, no nation can stay aloof or isolated but must play its appropriate role in the mainstream of international activities. After taking into consideration our policies and priorities as well as the prevailing international situation and trends, Myanmar is also trying to be in the mainstream of the international community. Consequently, Myanmar’s external activities have grown dramatically in recent years.

To meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world and the rapidly expanding international relations, Myanmar’s diplomats must necessarily be fully qualified and skilled. It is gratifying to note that, in keeping with these objectives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been conducting various courses and seminars to improve the efficiency of its personnel. In these times, it is essential for our diplomats to be of international standards in order to fully serve the national interests of the country. Therefore, our officials must strive hard to become diplomats who can function effectively and efficiently in the conduct of international affairs by being well versed in international relations and diplomacy as well as by being fully aware of the nation’s policies, objectives and endeavours.

As is well known in Myanmar today, the Government, people and the Armed Forces have joined hands together and are working day and night in trying to build a peaceful, modern and developed state in Myanmar. Unfortunately, some countries have turned a blind eye to the Government’s sincerity and endeavours and are continuing to apply political pressure and economic sanctions against Myanmar for their own political ends. It is now more than 10 years since the imposition of economic sanctions by some western nations. But the actual situation on the ground has proved that these actions have not been as successful as they would like. Similarly, pressure tactics have also not had as much impact as they had hoped for since the nation’s economic and social infrastructure continues to progress steadily. For example, during the 1996-97 to 2000-2001 Five Year Plan that ended last March, the country registered an average annual growth rate of 8.4 per cent bringing about a higher standard of living, better quality of life and significantly higher per capital income. These are undeniable facts known to the people and to all objective observers.

These countries have also tried to isolate our nation internationally. Instead of being ostracized, the nation’s external relations and friendly ties with other nations have grown steadily. Last year, countries and groups that hold negative views against Myanmar pushed the ILO Governing Body to institute unprecedented and unfair measures against Myanmar. However, these measures were unanimously opposed by ASEAN states and other friendly countries and recent events have shown that these measures have received little support. Due to the assistance and support of friendly and sympathetic nations that would like to see fairness and objectivity prevail, Myanmar was able to stand with dignity and honour.

As a responsible member of the international community, Myanmar is also participating actively in various international fora including the United Nations and its subsidiary organs in accordance with the principles laid down in the UN Charter and is cooperating with them within the framework of its national objectives and policies.

Currently, some opposition groups are spreading allegations based on false information, claiming that there are widespread human rights abuses and forced labour in the country. These allegations are completely groundless. The Government is taking systematic diplomatic steps to refute them and to let the world know of the true situation of the country.

Under these circumstances, it is imperative for the international community to be well informed with the objective conditions of the nation and our diplomats should pay special attention to carry out this task successfully. In fulfilling this high responsibility, our diplomats must not only constantly study the latest conditions and trends in international relations and diplomacy, they must also fully understand and appreciate the policies, objectives, programmes and endeavours of the Government. It is only when they are aware of the true situation and the national objectives of the country, will they be able to present them to the international community in an accomplished, faithful and effective manner.

In acquainting the international community about the true conditions of Myanmar, it is also important to inform the world about Myanmar’s foreign policy and activities, especially Myanmar�s desire to maintain friendly relations with all the countries of the world, particularly the neighbouring states. It has been found that opposition groups and groups holding negative views in attacking Myanmar are trying to sow seeds of discord between Myanmar and friendly countries, particularly the neighbouring countries. It is well-known to all that in its relations with its neighbours, Myanmar strictly adheres to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and practices good-neighbourly policy according to the saying �Let amity be prolonged and enmity be short-lived.� It is also the desire of Myanmar for the border areas with all of its neighbours to be zones of peace, harmony and prosperity. Therefore Myanmar has never allowed any opposition group to use Myanmar territory as base to operate against a neighbour and will never do so. However, it is only natural that sometimes matters can rise between neighbours since they share a common border. But based on the concept of making big issues become smaller and smaller issues to be completely resolved, Myanmar has always approached such issues in the spirit of friendship, goodwill, understanding and mutual respect. For example, in recent months opposition groups and people holding negative views have tried to destroy the existing friendship between Myanmar and Thailand and drive a wedge between them by using the media to exaggerate the situation at the border.

Keeping foremost in mind its national sovereignty and national interests, the Government took required measures within its policy framework and did what was necessary. Subsequently, the matters between Myanmar and Thailand were resolved through friendship, understanding and cooperation. Thus the attempts to drive a wedge between the two countries failed and I am happy to inform you that the situation is now returning to normal. The understanding reached and the resolution of the issues involved is also due to the sincere efforts undertaken during the recent goodwill visit of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to Myanmar.
As the Government is meeting as much as possible the needs and requirements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Myanmar Missions abroad, it is incumbent upon the foreign service personnel to serve the country with complete faith and loyalty. They must also have the correct outlook, attitude and thinking. It is also vital for them to be imbued with the sense of patriotism, of love for one’s country and of loyalty to the nation and its people. It is most gratifying to note that these matters will also be taught and discussed during the course.

Since the course is being attended not only by the personnel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but also by officials from other Ministries as well, some of the subjects taught may or may not have direct bearing for some trainees. Even if the subjects do not relate directly to the work of some trainees, they will surely benefit from it, even if it is in an indirect way. This is because Myanmar is not only expanding it international activities but also trying to enter into the mainstream of the international community so as not to be left behind in these times of globalization. I would therefore like to urge all the trainees to study diligently the state of international relations, the significance of various world events, the changing nature of diplomacy as well as other foreign affairs related issues.

In closing, allow me to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to Minister U Win Aung and responsible officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for arranging this course as well as the professors and teachers who have made such a comprehensive curriculum possible. May I also convey my sincere best wishes:

– for the full realization of the objectives of the course;
– for the enhancement of diplomatic skills of all the trainees;
– for all the personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to become true sons and daughters of the country who steadfastly uphold the interests of the nation and its people; and
– for all government officials to become true public servants who are always patriotic, faithful and loyal to the nation.

Thank you.

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