Thursday, December 4, 2014

Norway’s foreign minister reaffirms support for one sided peace process

December 4,  2014

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende together with Tatmadaw
official and ex-MI Aung Min
Norway's foreign minister has pledged further support for Myanmar’s peace process by working with USDP controlled Myanmar Peace Center and the Tatmadaw, in exchange for lucrative business contracts.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende together with Tatmadaw official and ex-MI Aung Min
“The journey towards a prosperous, peaceful and inclusive society will be long (longer for ethnic groups),” Borge Brende said at the meeting in Bago Region on November 30. “Your  (USDP and Tatmadaw) work and effort to build peace and prosperity deserves our full support.”

The meeting was  attended by Minister for the USPD President’s Office U Aung Min – the military government’s chief peace negotiator – representatives from the Myanmar Peace Center and the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI).

The meeting took place just 11 days after the Tatmadaw shelled a Kachin Independence Army military academy near Laiza, on the border with China, killing 23 cadets. The dead were from Chin, Arakan, Shan and Ta-ang armed groups allied with the Kachin, although several KIA trainers were injured.

Mr Brende acknowledged that the military government was yet to make major progress in its talks with the UNFC armed groups and said even in areas where ceasefires have been reached conditions remain very challenging for civilians. Nevertheless, conditions were now ripe for large scale business investments exploiting the large swaths of virgin land in the ethnic states.

MPSI is Norway’s principal vehicle for engagement with the peace process, and funds a range of pro-Norwegian business initiatives in conflict areas where ceasefires have been signed.

In 2012, Norway cut off all aid to ethnic conflict area humanitarian groups and urged them to work under the Myanmar Peace Center instead.

In 2013, Norway won a nationwide telecom contract for its state owned Telenor. The Norwegian ambassador to Myanmar then shifted jobs to take up leadership of  local Telenor operations after the contract was won.

Norway is also continuing to promote peace through hydro-electric dam projects in Myanmar via its state owned companies and its MPSI.  Norway has supported the restart of the Myitsone Dam through its  "powering the peace process" strategy paper released in 2013.