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H.E. Peter Lysholt Hansen, Ambassador of Denmark to Myanmar
H.E. Ann Ollestad, Ambassador of Norway to Myanmar
Mr. Jarmo Matti Kuuttila, Chargé dʼAffaires a.i, the Diplomatic Mission of Finland
Mr. Johan Hallenborg, Head of Office, Sweden Embassy, Section Office in Yangon
The four Nordic countries have been working under the same roof in Yangon since 2012. What started as a practical arrangement has now developed into an innovative pilot project for Nordic cooperation globally. In order to celebrate the strong collaboration between the Nordic countries in Myanmar, and the move to our new premises, an open house event will be held at the Nordic House on 3 March.
While Nordic embassies are physically located together in other global capitals such as Berlin, Dhaka and Kabul, the Nordic House in Yangon represents the most ambitious Nordic cooperation so far. In Yangon, we not only share common office space, but also common administration. This allows us to collaborate closely and to offer a comprehensive platform of support to the people of Myanmar.
The Nordic countries have for many years had a close collaboration, with the view to maintain peace and strengthen integration in the Nordic region. A visible example of this collaboration is the establishment in 1971 of the Nordic Council of Ministers, a regional intergovernmental organisation with this specific purpose.
What we like to refer to as the “Nordic model” is a society that is deeply rooted in democracy and respect for human rights. That human rights are engrained in the social and political fabric of the Nordic societies is also one of the main reasons behind our strong democratic systems and prosperity.
More specifically, the Nordic model is built on a tradition characterised by the rule of law, active civic movements and strong civil society organisations, freedom of expression, equality, and solidarity. As well-established democracies, we share a tradition of involving our grassroots and of fostering a strong culture of social engagement, participation, accountability and transparency when it comes to political decision-making.
Importantly, the Nordic countries are built on strong welfare systems and on clean and transparent governments. This has been confirmed in various global rankings, such as Transparency International’s Anticorruption Index.
The Nordic support to the people of Myanmar dates back several decades, most notably in our support to civil society and to democratisation efforts. We share the belief that peace and reconciliation are essential prerequisites for development and prosperity. Therefore we are strongly committed to support all stakeholders in the on-going peace process. A key issue in this regard will be that the different needs and interests of women and girls, men and boys are taken into account in the peace process, and that women are able to participate to a greater extent and on equal terms.
Our support to Myanmar is directed to many areas, including poverty reduction, improved access to education and health, strengthening the civil society and independent media, enhancing environmental sustainability as well as promoting job creation. And, as gender equality is a central and crosscutting feature in all four countries’ support to Myanmar, we will continue to promote this agenda in all spheres of our relations together with our Myanmar partners.
Nordic companies have in recent years established a significant presence in Myanmar, even taking on leading roles in sectors such as telecommunication, energy, textiles, beverage and food products, and shipping.
These businesses are vital in ensuring long-term, sustainable poverty eradication through creating value and broadly based wealth, tax revenues and productive jobs. Inherent in this role is also the responsibility of implementing sustainable business practices and corporate social responsibility, principles that form a common denominator for the Nordic business community.
The Nordic countries look forward to work closely together with all our partners in Myanmar in supporting the on-going reform and democratization process in the country. We wish to see Myanmar succeed in becoming a peaceful and democratic society with equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth that promotes human rights for all people.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not reflect DVB editorial policy.