Mr. Chairman,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to extend, on behalf of the Myanmar Delegation, our warm congratulations to H.E. Mr. S. Jayakumar on his election as Chairman of the Thirty-Second ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, 6th ARF and PMC. I would also like to convey our deep appreciation to the Government and people of Singapore for the generous hospitality extended to all of us and for the excellent arrangements for these Meetings.

I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to my distinguished colleague, H.E. Mr. Hor Namhong, Senior Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia and his delegation joining us for the first time as a full member. With the integration of Cambodia into the ASEAN fold, the strength of our grouping has been consolidated further.

Mr. Chairman,

Expanded membership of ASEAN demands from all of us greater efforts to facilitate integration of all new members and to overcome challenges. The existence of difference in the levels of economic development, different political and social systems and the integration of new members in a brief span of time naturally calls for greater accommodation and understanding based an equality and mutual respect, There will be a need for greater knowledge of one another. This will lead to better cooperation and coordination both in the internal and external affairs of the Association. This is the time to strengthen the foundation and to set the stage for the emergence of a stronger and united ASEAN working together for peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

I believe that commitment of ASEAN members for economic, social and cultural development of the region, through our joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership would guide us through difficulties to gain out common goal of Vision 2020. In this respect, may I quote Manila Declaration of 1987, which stated that “ASEAN shall pursue regional solidarity and cooperation under all circumstances, especially whenever pressures and tensions of any kind arising from within the region or from the outside of the region challenge the capacities, resourcefulness and goodwill of the ASEAN nations”.

I would like to welcome the positive progress made in the various ARF activities. Myanmar would like to see the ARF proceed along its evolutionary at a pace comfortable to all participants. While maintaining ASEAN as a driving force of the ARF, ASEAN should intensify focusing its interest in the region’s security and political matters.

We are concerned with the recent developments in the South-China Sea and we would like to request the countries involved to settle the dispute in peaceful means and in accordance with the recognized principles of international laws, and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We are confident that a peaceful settlement could be achieved if the countries concerned exercise self-restraint, entering dialogue and consultations to solve the problems.

Mr. Chairman,

Myanmar deeply deplores the action of NATO in Yugoslavia. The NATO intervention in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia was a violation of the UN Charter and the basic norms of the International Law. The NATO actions has caused the loss of lives of many innocent civilians, including women and children.

In this connection, Myanmar feels that the world should not and cannot be put under the control of one country or of a group of countries. A country’s affairs should be handled by its own people and international issues should be solved through negotiations and not through military means.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion I would like to reaffirm our commitment to meet our obligations as a member of ASEAN and to assure you that we will actively contribute towards greater regional peace, security, and prosperity. We are also determined to work together with ASEAN colleagues to meet challenges in the new millenium and to establish a just and reasonable new political and economic order which could be able to create a long-term peaceful environment for the development of all countries in the world.

Thank you.