During the past six months Burmese Railway Minister U Aung Min has spearheaded negotiations with most of Burma’s armed ethnic groups. During a recent trip to Norway, the minister talked with DVB’s Chief Editor Aye Chan Naing about the tentative peace deals in the works between the government and several of the country’s rebel armies.
What was the main topic of the meeting today? The [Norwegian FM] said it concerned the peace building process. What did you discuss today?
The purpose of my visit is to talk about the peace building process. The president’s cabinet has mainly tasked me with peace building [projects] in the country. So we mostly talked [in the meeting] about this particular matter. We have reached ceasefire agreements with most ethnic groups we were tasked to deal with. So we have to assist them with the necessary [resources] and infrastructure upon their return and also demining programmes. I’m here to explain these [plans].
This is the first time in years for a leader in the Burmese government to visit Norway. Do you carry any message from the president for the Norwegian government?
Although Norway is very far away from us in terms of geographical distance, it is one of the nations that have communicated closely with Burma promptly after our government came into power. This country is a true democratic nation and there are a lot of things we should see and take note of. This is why the president himself willingly sent me here. I’ve seen a lot of proficient people here and been to many places, and found a lot of things to keep in mind and jobs for us to do – I’ve gained a lot of perspective.
What is the future plan between the governments of Norway and Burma?
One significant thing that happened during my visit is that sanctions were lifted on the day we arrived [in Oslo]. Norway is looking to open its embassy in Burma, which means [Norway] will become one of the countries [that engages] in close relations with us.
One of the most frequently asked questions now is regarding ceasefires. Although ceasefire agreements have been made with groups such as the Karen and the Mon, this is yet to happen in Kachin State. Do you have any comments on this?
We are taking a lot of different approaches regarding the Kachin sector under the leadership of the president. The president is determined to make peace with this particular group. We have many plans to work on this and it is my belief that everything will be fine – Burma will become a peaceful country.
-Watch the complete interview with Aung Min and Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre here