In order to have a better understaning of the recent elections in Myanmar, The Istituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliare (IsAG) had the pleasure to interview Kaythi Soe, Minister Counsellor at Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Italy.
Q: General elections in Myanmar held on 8 November received strong media coverage and caught the attention of the International Community. These historical elections also appear to be undoubtedly a meaningful event in the history of the Country and they represent a key turning point in the path of realization of the so-called ‘Roadmap to Discipline-flourishing Democracy’. What will be, in your opinion, the challenges that Myanmar will face in its new political course?
A: I completely agree with you that recent election is the historic one. Our roadmap to democracy is rather well-prepared and calls for intense negotiation and understanding throughout the process. The immediate challenge would be transfer of power to the new government. The President U Thein Sein and the Senior General Min Aung Hlaing had publicly congratulated the election victory of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi and promised to respect the result of elections. They are going to meet probably next month for detailed discussion. As the media is widely speculated the NLD needs to work hand in hand with Tatmadaw. Depending on the trust and level of cooperation, the transfer of power to democratic force would be stable and successful. We should not forget that insurgency still exists in Myanmar and power vacuum in security institutions is very dangerous. We need to continue the peace process with armed national groups progressively and more inclusively. I personally think that the biggest challenge for the next government is to manage the expectations of the people – economic development, employment, social welfare, good education, good governance and efficient government mechanism – to name a few. Right now people’s expectation is so high and if the new government cannot handle it properly, there will be consequences.
Q: What will be, in your opinion, the actual political role of the National League for Democracy and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi after these elections?
A: The National League for Democracy is the winning party in recent election. It has majority control in the parliament and can form the government including the three Union Ministers which the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services has nominated for Defence, Home Affairs and Border Affairs Ministries. According to the existing 2008 constitution, Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be the President. But she can be speaker of the Parliament or the Minister in the cabinet. If she wants to be still a politician and lead her party, she can be the Speaker of the Parliament. If she wants to have an executive role, she can be a Minister.
Q: How couldt these elections influence the foreign policy and the process of openness of Myanmar? What kind of impact could they have in Myanmar’s relations with main players in International Community such as the US, China and the EU?
A: As in any other country of the world, the foreign policy has some determinants and variables. The government can change, but the national interest will be the same and primary aim of the foreign policy. Here, I would also like to highlight that the perspective of the international community towards Myanmar can play a significant role in Myanmar’s reintegration efforts to the international community.
Q: How have Italy – Myanmar’s relations have been until now and how could they improve from now on? In which field do you wish a stronger cooperation? How could Italy be a key partner in improving the EU – Myanmar’s relations?
A: Italy is the experienced democratic country which always encourages and supports Myanmar’s transition to democracy. Italy’s role of bridge between Europe and Mediterranean regions and its natural exposure to non-Europe refugees is quite interesting for Myanmar and I hope we can learn a lot from Italy in that areas. We can also improve our relations in trade and economy as well as in cultural preservation. We can also cooperate in tourism and cultural business. Within enhanced EU-Myanmar cooperation, Italy will have many opportunities to contribute to the development of Myanmar.
The Istituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliare (IsAG) thanks Minister Counsellor Kaythi Soe and the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Italy for the interview.