It’s been twenty-five years, since Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Twenty-five years ago she couldn’t reach Oslo for the awarding ceremony, as she was under house arrest. Today she represents her country as a State Counsellor. This story is such a powerful testimony to the incredible change Myanmar is going through.
The government has taken bold measures to improve human rights and re-invigorate the peace process. Political prisoners have been released. Steps have been taken against those who incite hatred. An Advisory Commission was established to address the challenges of Rakhine State, and it’s led by a great man and great friend of your country such as Kofi Annan. An inclusive Union Peace Conference was launched.
The European Union has followed all these steps, and despite the geographic distance, we have followed them closely. It was a great honour for us to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement as an international witness.
Today we mark another important step in our relationship. For the first time in twenty-five years, the European Union will not table a human rights resolution on Myanmar in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. twenty-five years, again. twenty-five years is a long time. Twenty-five years is the measure of the incredible distance Myanmar has walked, the measure of how much your country has changed.
In June the European Union adopted a new strategy to support Myanmar's path towards democracy, peace and prosperity. Only a full national reconciliation will make your democracy strong. So we are engaging with all actors, including the military, to facilitate this process. Through the Joint Peace Fund we are lending our political and financial support to the peace process, and we will keep doing so.
We understand the complexity of the situation in Rakhine State, where the European Union is present as a leading donor and investor. I know that you are working hard to find a sustainable solution for both communities.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke of the need for a multi-ethnic, multi-religious democracy in Myanmar. Well, the road towards a diverse and inclusive democracy is never easy. It is not easy for you, like it has not been and sometimes still is not easy for us, for our European democracies. That’s one of the greatest challenges of our times. But I am convinced it’s a challenge that we can face together, and we can win together.