Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The greetings extended by Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the second session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong

Nay Pyi Taw May 24

Officials of the State, personnel of the respective armed ethnic groups and local and foreign guests attending this second session of the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong with full confidence, I wish you all health and happiness.

First and foremost, let me express my belief that the ultimate aim of the conference is to generate progress through peace and stability by restoring it in terms of politics and security after removing the years-long misjudgments and misunderstandings among our ethnic peoples who have been living in the Union in harmony since yore and who have built the Union together and the armed conflicts that have sprung up from those wrong opinions. Foundation is an essential element of every action and structure. Only the firm and durable foundation ensures their success and progress. I hope you all here will fully realize the aspiration of the entire people after firmly laying the foundation of peace, which is the country’s dire need.

Peace and stability can be found as the core of every developed country. As for our country armed conflicts must be ended without fail to restore peace and stability. We must prioritize the work of restoring internal peace in our cohesive march towards the multiparty democracy under the unified goal. During the first five-year term of the multiparty democracy era, the former government started extending olive branch to armed groups on 18 August 2011. 

Accepting the armed conflicts as the political issue whose answer can be found through the political dialogue, the government, the Tatmadaw and the armed ethnic groups met again and again with much patience for days and months to solve the problem. As a result, the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement-NCA could be signed with eight armed ethnic groups on 15 October 2015. Coordination meetings for the NCA started with participation of 21 ethnic armed organizations. At the time of signing, only eight ethnic armed organizations signed the NCA due to various reasons. Therefore, it can be said that subjects and facts included in the NCA have been agreed by ethnic armed organizations.

The emergence of NCA was based on two concepts proposed by ethnic armed organizations. The first one was that as the government, the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed organizations which have ceased fire had agreements signed by the organizations individually, it needed to have a national level ceasefire agreement in order to start political dialogues at the national level. The second one was the ceasefire agreements in successive eras were based on the stage of ending attacks. As there was no exact process for monitoring the agreements and no guarantees and agreements for continuously holding political dialogues after ending fire, many events happened for cancelling ceasefire processes.

 As such, the second concept indicated that it needed to comprehensively implement these points on the time schedule. That is why it can be found that the NCA fully granted for these concepts. Mutual trust is of great importance between both sides in implementing the peace processes. Such a “trust” is also a great impetus for achieving success in the peace processes. The NCA consists of guarantees for politics, ethnic affairs, religious affairs and security which can grant for the trust, and the processes of discussions, coordination and seeking solutions which is essence of democracy can be obviously seen in the NCA.

Opposite of “trust” is “worry” which may cause the bad hindrance to implementation of the peace processes. I would like to clearly explain the NCA is not an accord to surrender the ethnic armed organizations. In this regard, principles in the Chapter I of the NCA mention that it needs to establish new political culture for holding discussions and seeking solutions in order to end armed conflicts and for solving the political problems with the political ways without using military ones so that it is necessary to carry out ceasefire the whole nation on the first priority. 

However, as any democratic country does not allow demanding political rights with holding arms, it needs to perform DDR, SSR processes according to the reconciliation programme for security measure resulted from political dialogues in line with the NCA’s political roadmap. If they want to actually secure the peace and walk on the way of multi-party democracy which is essence of democracy, they will solve all things peacefully. It can be seen that only when armed conflicts ended, were political dialogues held in any democratic country in realizing democracy. So, I would like to say trustful and brave performances with guarantees from the NCA will create smooth peace processes.

Furthermore, I would like to explain the stand of Tatmadaw over the State and the people for the peace. The Tatmadaw is not a political organization. Only then, will political parties and people’s representatives chosen by the people perform the politics. The Tatmadaw is cooperating in politics, economy, and administrative reforms of the country in line with law, with an eye to attaining three objectives—stability of the State, national unity, and socio-economic development of the people. The standpoint of Tatmadaw on peace process is to stand firmly on the NCA path, which is the peace strategy of our country. In implementing NCA, the Tatmadaw will adhere to its six-point peace policy.

 I would like to reiterate what I said at the NCA Anniversary last year that the six-point peace policy of the Tatmadaw is its ‘consciousness’ developed from peace efforts in successive periods as well as the ‘reality’ for the current peace process. For the sake of permanent peace, the termination of clashes and armed conflicts is the dearest wish of the Tatmadaw. In accordance with objectives and intentions of NCA, we always keep the peace’s door open and extend a welcome to ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) which should participate.

Today, we face not only the problem of internal peace, but also external threats. Therefore, now is the time we are in critical need of solid unity and seamless unanimity among the government, Parliament, Tatmadaw, and entire national people, which are the major forces of the country. All the national people are responsible to protect our motherland. Therefore, we need to boost more and more forces including the Tatmadaw that can protect the country. We have found that some actions sap the defense power of the country. As unity can bolster up the ‘strength’ of the country, disunity can also weaken this ‘strength’. The strength of the country lies within, and we therefore must build the united power of all institutions inside the country. I would like to say that Tatmadaw is actively joining the national reconciliation process initiated by the government besides peace process.

After the NCA was signed, the Union government and NCA signatories, according to objectives and intentions of the NCA and the political roadmap, developed framework for political dialogue and joint monitoring committees (JMCs) through negotiations. The Tatmadaw and ethnic armed organizations have also adopted through negotiation ceasefire regulations and military code of conduct. In the current multi-party democracy system, the Tatmadaw has been engaging in the peace-making processes constantly for more than 2,000 days (69 months) since the date (18 August, 2011) on which the ethnic armed groups were invited to the peace table to achieve the eternal peace. We have been holding a series of discussions and negotiations since the first five-year tenure of the government until the second five-year tenure of the government. We carried out the works for further cementing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and the matters pertaining to political dialogues step by step.

Ethnic armed groups which have signed the NCA station in the previous conflict-affected areas. But the fact that these regions see development after the NCA has been signed is a dramatic result of the NCA. Both sides could reduce the number of conflicts to a greater extent and there are nearly no clashes in those regions. Trilateral trust, understanding and cooperation between the armed groups and locals could be promoted. We need to continue working on it with added momentum as well as to spread it to other organizations. For that, special emphasis should be placed on the implementation of interim-period plans described in the NCA.

 It can be seen that the plans have opened the door for ethnic armed groups to coordinate with local authorities in their respective ceasefire regions during the peace dialogue period, in accord with the existing rules and laws. Locals would enjoy the fruits of peace only when the regional development tasks are effectively implemented in ceasefire areas during the ceasefire period through cooperation with local authorities, in accordance with the existing rules and laws. Only then, would they have a trust in peace-making process. This is the strength for our peace-making process. Nothing is as important as peace at a time when the country is working on the peace-making process. For that, it needs to avoid the matters which may lead to misunderstanding at the first place, interference in the government’s administrative works and going beyond the capacity.

In implementing peace making processes, the political roadmap described in the NCA is an exit for the Union to be exactly followed by all those involved. The remaining peace-making processes can be done trustfully only when the ongoing armed conflicts come to an end. In practice, the current peace-making processes go beyond the basic principles of the NCA and the roadmap. In cooperation with respective organizations, the Tatmadaw sought the solution to the problems, with a burning desire to get the peace, trust and understanding that respective organizations wants peace like the Tatmadaw and sympathy towards the armed groups of the two sides and locals who bear the brunt of armed conflicts on the ground. 

So the preliminary agreements were reached at the 10th UPDJC meeting. Such an agreement with the real requirements of the State and wishes of national races has resulted from the active participation and genuine goodwill of all stakeholders. By nature, all human beings have their respective desires. But I would like to say that without putting our own desires in the fore, we must cultivate the spirit of constantly protecting Our Three Main National Causes, the absolute requirement of the State and the people, and pursing our path to multi-party democracy.

It is agreed in the NCA that we will build a democratic federal Union with the results from political dialogue based on freedom, equality and justice, Panglong spirit and the rights of self-administration and guarantees with the aim of ensuring non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of national solidarity and perpetuation of sovereignty in building a future state. It is the goal of NCA which has already covered all the points demanded by national races. Ignoring this and pursuing other or the second way will be an attempt to loathe the establishment of a Union based on peace, democracy and federalism. As such, we have to assume that the attempt is tantamount to grabbing power and splitting from the Union through armed struggle line.

 Studying 72 papers submitted at the previous conference, we came to notice that the discussions, activities and basic concepts of some ethnic groups are far beyond the federal system, which is the right of autonomy. Such acts go against the desires and interest of the people who have high expectations of the democracy cause and peace process. As an institution responsible for protecting the interest of the State and the people, the Tatmadaw has to face any organization committing destructive acts in line with its responsibility.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the Tatmadaw will actively participate in the peace process with our loyalty to the State and the people and duty conscientiousness based on responsibility, accountability and transparency by adhering to Myanmar’s peace strategic NCA and the Tatmadaw’s six-point peace policy.


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