Interview

Myanmar Junta Losing Diplomatic Battles: NUG Foreign Minister

By The Irrawaddy 28 October 2021

Some nine months after the coup, Myanmar’s military regime is losing the battle for diplomatic recognition, after the junta leader was not invited to ASEAN’s summits and no country has yet officially recognized the regime.
Daw Zin Mar Aung, foreign minister for the parallel National Unity Government (NUG), recently told The Irrawaddy if the regime’s failures on the international stage are a diplomatic victory for the parallel government.

How is the relationship between the NUG and ASEAN?

The NUG tries to engage as much as possible with regional countries and others on the diplomatic front so that the international community can better understand our actions and the situation in Myanmar and provide support to us.
As to the relationship with ASEAN as the whole, we give regular updates [about Myanmar] and on the appointment of a special envoy [to Myanmar]. We regularly present our recommendations regarding the implementation of the five-point consensus.
We urged ASEAN not to invite the military council to the ASEAN summits because it had staged a coup in defiance of the ASEAN Charter and it does not represent Myanmar’s people.
We told them that the NUG is ready to cooperate with ASEAN members, representing Myanmar’s people and that we are ready to send a representative [to the summits].

What is the opinion of the NUG about the ASEAN summit which was held without Myanmar?

No country has recognized the regime since Feb. 1. [The absence of Myanmar] is the consequence of that. No country has recognized the regime and the whole world is condemning it. The ASEAN summit further highlights the fact that no country has recognized the military council as the legitimate government.

What does the NUG expect from the ASEAN summit? Was the NUG allowed to present its case to the summit? What will be the NUG’s next diplomatic steps?

As the internet and email are widely used, we try to continuously engage with the ASEAN Secretariat and cc ASEAN members on the emails. Some countries replied that they had received our emails. I send emails to the foreign ministries of all ASEAN members as well as the ASEAN Secretariat.
As the president [U Win Myint] could not attend [the summit], the acting president sent a message on behalf of the NUG. Whether the message was read or not, we could show our cooperation with our ASEAN family.
As to our expectations of the summit, there is a need to increase diplomatic pressures. ASEAN alone is not enough to handle the issue, so I expect to see how ASEAN and its partners, such as China and US, will together provide a solution.
I hope ASEAN and its partner countries will discuss that. We also expect to see cooperation between ASEAN and the UN. As the UN has appointed a new special envoy on Myanmar, I hope they will discuss better solutions.

What does the NUG expect from the UN’s appointment of Noeleen Heyzer as the new special envoy to Myanmar?

Ms Noeleen is familiar with Myanmar to an extent. She is also from Singapore and I understand she was selected because she is from the region. This will help avoid tensions between bigger countries.
From a diplomatic perspective, Myanmar is not an easy task for anyone. It is a huge challenge to engage with dictators who are bigoted and always thinking of how to gain the upper hand and maintain their grip on power rather than solving problems in the national interest.
So rather than assigning an individual or an entity to solve the issue, this problem has to be solved through a coordinated approach. Only through cooperation with partner countries and entities can an effective and successful solution be found.

The United Nations will decide next month whether to keep Myanmar’s ambassador [to the UN] U Kyaw Moe Tun. What has the NUG prepared and what does it expect?

It is our top priority to make sure U Kyaw Moe Tun, who really represents the voices of Myanmar, continues to have diplomatic representation. Currently, the UN still recognizes U Kyaw Moe Tun as the envoy appointed by President U Win Myint and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The UN still recognizes U Win Myint and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This remains unchanged and we plan to approach based on that.
At the same time, the NUG will continue to work to win recognition both at home and abroad. Despite the difficulties, we have been providing services to Myanmar’s people. Even if we can’t win [international] recognition, we will try to increase our diplomatic engagement.

What did you discuss with the US national security advisor last week?

We have regular engagement with diplomats from other countries. We have regular engagement with the international community as there are continuous events, meetings and decisions regarding Myanmar.
As to the US, we have regular meetings with different levels of diplomats. Recently, we met the national security advisor who directly advises the US president.
We have already met three times with the advisor to the secretary of state. And we also have engagement with diplomats from other countries, including from the region and Europe.
The US sent the national security advisor to affirm support for our movement to build democracy and bring justice. US President Joe Biden wanted to hear about the situation on the ground and the voices from Myanmar before he attended the ASEAN summit. We also discussed the US provision of humanitarian aid to Myanmar and the NUG’s relations with regional countries.
To summarize the meeting, we received a clear message from the US that they would continue to support the revolution, where the NUG and Myanmar’s people are fighting for democracy and human rights to establish a federal democracy.

What is the NUG’s view on the situation in Myanmar? Is the NUG is winning the diplomatic battle?

The administrative, judicial and legislative branches have fallen under the control of one entity. We are resisting and revolting to restore them. We are discharging the duties assigned by the people through elections. At the same time, the people must reject the junta and oppose any attempt to prolong the dictatorship.
We are fighting for democracy, human rights and to establish a federal union and we must continue our efforts while attracting international attention. Thanks to the persistence and sustained efforts of people from all walks of life, we have achieved certain progress. We have yet to maintain and accelerate the momentum until we achieve victory.
Only when all revolutionary forces inside and outside the country work harmoniously, will we be able to achieve a real victory.


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