MGallery Nay Pyi Taw,

Wednesday, 8 May 2019
U Thaung Tun, Union Minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations delivered Remarks on the occasion of  Europe Day Reception which was held at M Gallery Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw on 8 May 2019. The remarks of Union Minister U Thaung Tun as follow:
Excellency, Ambassador Schmidt,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much, Ambassador, for your kind words, 
First, let me say that it is, once again, a very personal privilege to join with you all to celebrate Europe Day – where we take time to recognize and reflect upon the peace and prosperity which Europe enjoys today.
It was on this day, sixty-nine years ago, that Robert Schuman, then Foreign Minister of France, put forward a new vision for economic cooperation in Europe.
Yet, in doing so Schuman pursued a higher purpose – the dismantling of age-old divisions – the making of wars between historic rivals ‘unthinkable and materially impossible’. 
From this vision, the European Union has emerged – as a set of institutions, but also as set of values.
Respect for human rights and human dignity. Respect for freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.
These are values common to the European Union, but they are not uniquely European values. 
They are Myanmar values. 
They are universal values.
They are the values which form the cornerstone of EU-Myanmar relations. 
Distinguished Guests, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Each year, as Europe Day approaches, I am happily reminded of my time serving in Brussels as Myanmar’s Ambassador to the European Union.
It was during this and other postings throughout Europe that I witnessed first-hand the difficult and demanding, but ultimately rewarding work that goes into sustaining a peace which has spanned decades – enabling the emergence one of the world’s most prosperous economies which over 500 million citizens spread across 28 countries call home.
In 2013, all EU sanctions placed upon Myanmar, with the exception of an arms embargo, were lifted. Trade preferences under the "Everything But Arms" scheme were reinstated. The establishment of a full-fledged EU Delegation soon followed allowing  Myanmar-EU relations to rise to a new level.
New friends are important, but reliable friends are even more important. Today the EU remains amongst our most important partners. There are currently 152 EU firms operating in Myanmar having invested a combined total of US$6.8 billion as of March,2019.
According to official statistics, the EU was Myanmar’s 5th largest trading partner in the 2018-2019 Fiscal Year. There is room for improvement. 
However, our relationships cannot be understood, nor defined, by trade alone. The European Union has been a committed supporter of Myanmar’s democratic transition. 
EU’s constructive support includes a range of development cooperation programmes to ensure that democracy may takes firm roots in Myanmar.
Mr. Ambassador, I do recall that when we met last year, we happily celebrated your announcement of a €221 million Euro package of budget support earmarked for Myanmar’s education sector.
Both the EU and Myanmar recognise that Myanmar’s most valuable asset is our people – our young men and women in particular – and that a healthy education system is indispensable to a healthy, vibrant, creative economy able to embrace 21st century challenges – in whichever form they come.
In this regard, I am very pleased to learn that the first tranche of this support has already been delivered into the government’s treasury.
My optimism for the future is further uplifted when I hear that the EU is currently preparing a new €112 million Euro package of budget support and other measures centred upon improving dietary diversity in women and children, increasing rural incomes, enhancing food safety and facilitating greater access to safe water supply in rural areas – in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.
As detailed within our Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, and recognised by Sustainable Development Goal 2, achieving positive nutrition outcomes is a key priority for this government. Equipped with our new Multi-Sectoral National Action Plan for Nutrition, together with our Agriculture Development Strategy, I am convinced that there is great potential for success in this area and I would like to thank you for your support.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another area of noteworthy success has been the cooperation enjoyed between the EU and the Myanmar Police Force as part of the MyPol programme initiated in December 2016, this cooperation contributes to a modern, professional, human-rights based approach to policing -- the type of community-based approach which trust and confidence within communities.
The MyJustice programme, implemented by the British Council, is also achieving success -- assisting people and communities to identify and access both formal and informal pathways to justice, developing the legal capacity of justice sector professionals, and strengthening rule of law institutions to better fulfil their respective mandates.
And of course, the MyGovernance programme continues to strengthen public, private and non-state institutions in Myanmar as they develop capacities for policymaking, planning and implementation.
MyPol, MyJustice and MyGovernance – these are just a few of the many ways in which Myanmar and the EU are working together to promote the values I noted at the beginning of these remarks -- and I think it is only right that we draw attention to these and other initiatives on this occasion.
Through an ongoing policy dialogue, the Government of Myanmar looks forward to jointly planning our cooperation post 2020 in order to sustain the successes we see today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I conclude my remarks, I would like to touch briefly on the issue of Rakhine. It is not my intention to make Rakhine the focus of this evening’s remarks however, as friends, let us be frank and not shy away from difficult conversations.
It cannot be denied that ongoing tensions and misunderstandings have deprived many of our people of the democratic dividend promised to them at the dawn of Myanmar’s recent transformation.
Conflict -- be it in Rakhine or any place – has a chilling effect on investment and investor confidence, and, it must be said, has played a partial role in stifling further broad-based, inclusive and sustainable growth in some areas.
These challenges in Rakhine are deep-rooted, complex, and historic. So too are they political, social and economic in nature. Addressing each in isolation will not bring about the change which we seek, and our people so dearly desire. We must pursue all three at once, and we must not fail. 
That is why we organized a workshop in Yangon in the past two days to take stock of where we are with regard to our efforts to overcome the challenges in Rakhine. 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In closing, amidst these times of change, and as we ride a new and exciting wave of economic reform, we are grateful for the ongoing support of the European Union. 
I consider it an honour to once again represent the Government of Myanmar on this most auspicious occasion. On behalf of the people of Myanmar and the government, may I offer my most sincere congratulations to you, and to the people of Europe.
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I now invite you to join me in a toast:
to the continued success of the European Union;
to the everlasting bond of friendship between the peoples of Myanmar and the EU; and 
to the health, happiness of all friends here this evening.