Myanmar could become the rice bowl of its region and provide energy to other countries if “immoral” sanctions against it were lifted, the country’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today.
Speaking to the final day of the Assembly’s annual General Debate, U Nyan Win said the sanctions imposed by certain States against Myanmar were unwarranted.
“Unilateral sanctions are also against international law,” he said. “They are not only unfair but immoral. They are counter-productive and deprive the countries of their right to development.”
Myanmar has enough land and natural resources to “make a meaningful contribution to [the] energy and food security of our country and beyond,” but to do this it need free access to markets, modern technology and investment, he stressed.
“The sooner the unjust sanctions are revoked and the barriers removed, the sooner will the country be in a position to become the rice bowl of the region and a reliable source of energy.”
The Foreign Minister said political and social progress could only ever be achieved through development, rather than coercive economic measures.
“Such measures only serve to worsen the plight of the people, particularly the most vulnerable among them, women and children.”
Turning to the issue of national reconciliation, Mr. Win said his country was making resolute efforts towards that end, pursuing dialogue with dozens of different groups.
“Our endeavours have resulted in the return to the legal fold of 17 armed groups. We have effectively put an end to the decades-long insurgency. Peace and stability now prevails in almost all parts of the country.”
He noted that a draft national constitution had been approved by voters in May following a national convention, adding that general elections have been scheduled for 2010.
“Necessary measures are being undertaken for the elections. All citizens, regardless of political affiliation, will have equal rights to form political parties and to conduct election campaigns. The Government will make every effort to ensure that the elections will be free and fair.”
On Saturday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari held a meeting with the Group of Friends on Myanmar, which comprises 14 countries and one regional bloc.
The members of the group unanimously voiced their strong support for the Secretary-General’s good offices on the issue and encouraged Myanmar’s Government to work more closely with the United Nations on issues of concern, such as the release of the long-detained political prisoner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and inclusive dialogue with the opposition.