Myanmar Prepares for its Turn to Lead ASEAN Towards Integration

Men sitting down. (Mission Image)
 Ambassador Carden, Myanmar Government Officials  with Deputy Secretary General for Political Security and  ASEAN Senior Officials from Brunei, Cambodia and  Indonesia

Nay Pyi Taw – As Myanmar continues preparations to assume the role of chair of ASEAN for the first time in 2014, a U.S.-supported event brought Government officials together with senior officials from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia and Indonesia, and officials from the ASEAN Secretariat, to present Myanmar with an opportunity to learn from the successes and lessons-learned from past ASEAN chairs.

“Assumption of the ASEAN Chair in 2014 marks a great opportunity for Myanmar and the region,” said U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN David L. Carden during the opening of the workshop.  “As Myanmar continues to make strides in its internal reform processes and increases its linkages to the world beyond its borders, it will look first to its ASEAN neighbors who have consistently offered support and encouragement.  In the coming years I have every confidence Myanmar will be a leading contributor to ASEAN integration.”

The purpose of the workshop was to assist the Government in its preparations by examining remaining agenda items in implementing the ASEAN Community and learning how the process of managing this agenda throughout the calendar year of ASEAN meetings works among the Chair, the other Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat.

During his opening remarks, U Thant Zhaw, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs said that, “The Government greatly appreciates receiving the benefits of the experiences of previous chairs from our esteemed colleagues from Cambodia and Indonesia, as well as the ASEAN Secretariat. We look forward to building on the momentum they have created in the last few years as we take on the leadership of ASEAN next year.”

Discussions during the workshop included a focus on carrying out ASEAN’s ambitious initiatives in the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, and the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity.

“Apart from implementing the Roadmap, the Chair has a key role to play in promoting ASEAN centrality, and leads ASEAN as the primary driving force in its relations and cooperation with external partners in the evolving regional architecture,” said U Nyan Lynn, the Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Political-Security Community Department of the ASEAN Secretariat. ASEAN’s dialogue and cooperation frameworks include the ASEAN Plus One, the ASEAN Plus Three, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus, and the East Asia Summit.

The event concluded with discussion on ways to assist the Government build its capacity as it prepares to take on the role of ASEAN Chair, and a review of the assistance so far provided by ASEAN Member States, ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners and other entities.

Myanmar joined ASEAN in 1995, but declined to take up its first rotation as chair in 2006 preferring to focus attention on and dedicate itself to national reconciliation and democratization process.

The Workshop on the Leadership of ASEAN in 2014 was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with the U.S. Government-funded ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility.