Speech high­lights from Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence open­ing cer­e­mony

The Myanmar Times - - News -

Tat­madaw Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing

In his open­ing re­marks at a con­fer­ence where eth­nic armed groups are push­ing for greater au­ton­omy, the Tat­madaw chief stressed the need for “na­tional uni­fi­ca­tion”.

Com­man­der-in-Chief Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing said the Tat­madaw has con­trib­uted to the na­tion­build­ing pro­cess “through the ages” and will con­tinue to its ut­most abil­ity to achieve peace. He also pressed all par­tic­i­pants to abide by the con­tro­ver­sial six “prin­ci­ples for peace”, as out­lined for eth­nic armed groups at the be­gin­ning of then-pres­i­dent U Thein Sein’s peace pro­cess five years ago.

The prin­ci­ples, which have been jet­ti­soned by the eth­nic armed group lead­ers and crit­i­cised by an­a­lysts as of­fer­ing more of a stum­bling block to co­op­er­a­tion than a roadmap to peace, in­clude the de­mand that eth­nic par­ties and their armed wings ad­here to the 2008 con­sti­tu­tion. The char­ter pre­serves key roles for the Tat­madaw.

Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing en­cour­aged con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants to con­sider what they are able to con­trib­ute to the peace pro­cess in­stead of fo­cus­ing on what they de­sire from it. He added that all groups should pur­sue their aims through demo­cratic chan­nels such as par­lia­ment. “We should have a di­a­logue for peace with­out be­ing too eth­no­cen­tric,” he added.

KIA Ma­jor Gen­eral N’ Ban La

The peace talks must fol­low in line with the legacy of the his­toric 1947 Pan­g­long Agree­ment, the leader of the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Or­gan­i­sa­tion said in his speech yes­ter­day.

“The rea­son why we, the nonBa­mar eth­nic peo­ple, are stag­ing armed rev­o­lu­tion is be­cause of the loss of the Pan­g­long Agree­ment’s guar­an­tees for democ­racy, na­tional equal­ity and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion of eth­nic peo­ple,” said Maj Gen N’ Ban La, head of the United Na­tion­al­i­ties Fed­eral Coun­cil and vice chair of the KIO.

The KIO’s pres­ence at the con­fer­ence, he said, is meant to be a show of sup­port for the Na­tional League for Democ­racy-backed gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the for­mer op­po­si­tion party’s elec­tion vic­tory last year. “This is the very first step of the [new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s] long-term peace ne­go­ti­a­tions that will solve decades-long con­flicts,” he said.

He added that the fed­eral Union that the armed eth­nic or­gan­i­sa­tions are de­mand­ing is not a re­quest to se­cede from the Union, but is a call for equal­ity for the eth­nic na­tion­al­i­ties.

State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

The state coun­sel­lor urged at­ten­dees at the Union Peace Con­fer­ence to strive for peace for the sake of Myan­mar’s dis­placed peo­ples as well as its fu­ture gen­er­a­tions at the con­fer­ence open­ing yes­ter­day.

“We should work to achieve peace, keep­ing in mind the sac­ri­fices of our found­ing fa­thers and not for­get­ting those who suf­fer from on­go­ing con­flicts, to leave a legacy that will tes­tify to our mercy for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

The state coun­sel­lor con­grat­u­lated for­mer pres­i­dent U Thein Sein for ini­ti­at­ing the peace pro­cess un­der the USDP-led ad­min­is­tra­tion. Pres­i­dent U Thein Sein in­vited armed eth­nic or­gan­i­sa­tions to ne­go­ti­ate with the gov­ern­ment in 2013, cul­mi­nat­ing in the sign­ing of a “na­tion­wide” cease­fire agree­ment in Oc­to­ber 2015. The pact was widely crit­i­cised when only eight groups re­solved to sign it.

The state coun­sel­lor em­pha­sised in her speech that “more trust has been built” be­tween Myan­mar’s po­lit­i­cal stake­hold­ers at con­fer­ence peace talks.

“Across the coun­try, peo­ple watch with fear­ful eyes ev­ery time there is a peace sum­mit,” she said. “We should not for­get that they are suf­fer­ing.”

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon her­alded the his­toric na­ture of yes­ter­day’s 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, not­ing, “There is a long road ahead, but the path is very promis­ing.”

“The long civil war has cost nu­mer­ous lives and robbed suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions of their dig­nity, tran­quil­lity and nor­malcy. It is now clear that there can be no mil­i­tary so­lu­tion to your dif­fer­ences,” he said.

“I con­grat­u­late all sides for the pa­tience, en­durance, de­ter­mi­na­tion and spirit of com­pro­mise you have demon­strated in sup­port of na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,” he said, not­ing that there would be more trade-offs to come.

“Ev­ery side must win some­thing if the pro­cess is to suc­ceed.” – Lun Min Mang and Ei Ei Toe Lwin

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