French Minister of Foreign Affairs Praises Burma’s Path to Democratization

By Htet Naing Zaw 17 June 2016

RANGOON — French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault acknowledged the role of the Burma Army in contributing to Burma’s ongoing process of democratization in a visit to the country on Friday.

“The Burma Army took part in the country’s political reforms as well as in the electoral process. Therefore, we acknowledge it for its role in Burma’s reform process,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said at joint press conference in Naypyidaw.

He said that France respects the provisions of Burma’s 2008 Constitution and that it is very satisfied with the public’s participation in bringing about reform.

State Counselor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Aung San Suu Kyi thanked France for its consistent political, economic and development assistance.

“There is a very good relationship between us and France. I am especially interested in their culture. The French Institute in Rangoon is a fun, relaxing and interesting place for our people. I am especially grateful for it,” Suu Kyi said.

The French foreign affairs minister said that the French people support Suu Kyi’s human rights endeavors and that France is proud of her efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Burma.

“The strength of Burma is its people. We expect that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be able to make Burma’s reforms a success with the strength of the people. And France always supports the people, who are the strength of Burma,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

He added that France plans to provide 200 million euros (over US$2.25 million) in aid for Burma, and in the beginning of 2016, doubled its assistance for Burma’s socio-economic development. Ayrault said that French companies are responsible investors keen to promote cooperation with Burma in various sectors.

France is also willing to engage in urban development in Rangoon and in strengthening the energy and health sectors of across the country.

“We’d like to offer assistance in housing, transportation, water supply and other related urban sectors. We’d like to help develop the major cities of Burma, especially Rangoon. The Paris City Mayor’s Office in France is ready to assist Rangoon with development,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

He added that France is willing, at Suu Kyi’s request, to contribute to Burma’s peace process as well.

“France is ready to give a hand in the peace and national reconciliation process if asked. And we respect what Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is doing to ensure the equitable development among a diverse society and the success of Burma’s political process.”

He said that a festival to mark the 55th anniversary of the French Institute will be held in an effort to promote the economic and cultural ties between the two countries.

Correction: French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault said that France plans to provide 200 million euros (more than US$225 million) in aid for Burma, not US$2.25 million as an earlier version of the story misstated.  

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko