Greeting speech delivered by Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the signing ceremony of New Mon State Party and Lahu Democratic Union in Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement-NCA

Nay Pyi Taw, February 13

First and foremost, I would like to extend greetings that may all State level officials, officials from ethnic armed organizations, guests from local and international organizations and all national brethren have mental and physical well-being and enjoy peace and prosperity.

As today’s ceremony is for the New Mon State Party and Lahu Democratic Union to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement-NCA, it is delightful for all the people residing in the entire nation through thick and thin as well as an auspiciously significant day in 2018 because eternal peace ray is strongly shining over the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Everybody knows the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) is not only for the ceasefire but also for a path of the genuine and firm eternal peace which can practically implement the wider aims and desires of all national people. So, I warmly welcome the New Mon State Party and the Lahu Democratic Union which will walk along the path with trust and farsightedness, and the correct and brave decision for the people who have been living in the country since yore through thick and thin. Their signing activities will reduce doubts and worries of the signatory ethnic armed organizations to some extent as well as will create anticipations of the organizations which remain to sign the agreement in order to make continuous cooperation without wrong decision and doubts and with trust.

If we calculate the term of the NCA which started successful signing from 15 October 2015, today it turns two years and four months. Peace offer started to ethnic armed organizations on 18 August 2011, so now is six years and six months term of the peace-making process. At the ceremony to mark the 2nd anniversary of the NCA, I would like to further urge the signatory organizations to rapidly implement the points of the agreement which should be done and which can be done to be able to enjoy results and fruits of the peace while always giving an olive branch to the remnant ethnic armed organizations in order to make collaboration. I would like to note that the government, the people and the Tatmadaw are expecting to see more and more similar ceremonies in the future.

For the emergence of the NCA, individuals, groups and organizations with a view to achieve real peace held coordination meetings patiently many times to seek mutual understanding, trust and consensus. The agreements included in the NCA were not drawn by an individual or a group but drawn by the government, the Tatmadaw and all ethnic armed groups with a combination of each chapter, section, paragraph and usage based on prior suggestions made by the ethnic armed groups after heated discussions and negotiations. The NCA was drafted after all had agreed to march towards the path of multi-party democracy aspired by the people in view of Our Three Main National Causes—non-disintegration of the Union, non-disintegration of the national solidarity and perpetuation of the sovereignty—as earlier agreed when the preparation for the agreement was made.

The second point of the NCA basic principles says “Reach a negotiated settlement to end protracted armed conflict in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, secure a nationwide ceasefire as a first step to end armed conflicts and establish a new political culture of resolving political conflicts through political dialogue instead of force of arms.” In order to end armed conflict, officials from ethnic armed organizations who paid occasional overseas study visits on the topic of peace have learned from practical mutual discussions that ways and means have to be sought step by step in accord with procedures. Therefore, I don’t think it is necessary to reiterate it. We have found that some ethnic armed organizations with personal feelings cast doubts and illusions by mistakenly thinking that security sector reform is for them to surrender. Moreover, some hold the concept that ethnic armed groups’ signing of the NCA does not mean giving in to the government and the Tatmadaw. I would like to say that the ethnic armed organizations themselves should not have such doubts, illusions and concerns.

The NCA signing is a political culture in which political problem is peacefully solved on a roundtable. It means that concerned groups meet each other to seek a solution to 60 or 70 years of unsolved political conflict. It is necessary to understand that one’s own demands cannot be made by picking up arms in contrast with democracy. And it is only the NCA that can guarantee to end 60 or 70 years of armed struggle. This agreement describes exact procedures with a ceasefire put in an initial stage. We will not find it difficult to implement the agreement if we go step by step and in a correct and sincere manner. In so doing, what we need to notice is that we need to make preparations in security sector reform in advance in accord with the international peace process. This process is a point that must be implemented in achieving eternal peace. In implementing the peace process from the NCA to eternal peace, an exact timeframe is necessary and we will overcome all difficulties through coordination and negotiation.

There will not be armed conflicts if agreements enshrined in ceasefire chapter are followed to the letter. Even if small clashes occur because of misunderstanding, the NCA clearly states means and methods to solve them, so no problem will arise if those steps are followed. Since the Tatmadaw is an institution that upholds the four oaths including ‘We will be loyal to the people and the State’ and has to abide by existing laws issued by the State as well as Tatmadaw Acts and rules, it will not say one thing and do another. It has strictly implemented provisions in the NCA without deviating from six-point peace policy since peace process was initiated. It also takes strict and due action against those who do not follow existing laws, adopted policies, orders and instructions. The NCA and the six-point peace policy of the Tatmadaw is the way paved in the interests of the people and the Union for the armed struggle to proceed to peace, and then to a Union based on genuine democracy and federalism without causing troubles to any force.

The Tatmadaw has been patiently striving to solve political problems—which have existed in the country for nearly 70 years and were previously solved by means of armed struggle—through peaceful political dialogue around the table in order to achieve eternal peace, as well as stability for development of the country. The Tatmadaw is taking an active part in peace process with honesty and great anticipation not only for personalities of New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) who attend the NCA-signing ceremony today but also for eternal peace aspired by all the national brethren residing in the country and strengthening multi-party democracy which has emerged in accordance with the wishes of the majority. Therefore, I would like to urge all the national brethren in the Union to join hands for the long-term interests of the country.

In accordance with democratic practices, we have opened ways for seeking the solutions to the problems peacefully through discussions on the desires of organizations and negotiations. If they turn a blind eye to these ways, the path to the democratic goal which helps the country in marching towards a peaceful, stable and developed country will face a delay. As long as the processes take longer time, the socioeconomic status of the country and the people will not keep abreast with those in other countries. The main duty of the Tatmadaw is to defend the country. The state defence duty is to ensure the safety of the country, safeguard the life and property of every citizen and protect the peoples’ desires which are in accord with the laws. Here I would like inform the fact that in accord with the obligations assigned, the Tatmadaw would perform its duties for every act and organization that may hamper the life and property of citizens after going against the people’s desires, oppose and damage the interests of the country and the people. And the Tatmadaw would stand by and protect the people firmly.

In conclusion, nowadays technology is growing at a rapid rate. The peaceful developed neighbouring countries and the majority of world countries see rapid economic growth. It is an undeniable fact that development is the fruit of the peace and stability. For the time being, our country is would have to redouble our efforts to keep abreast with other countries even if our country had seen peace and stability without armed conflicts. The future socio-economic status of the people would remain dim if the country lacks peace and stability.

Tatmadawmen and the people stranded in the conflicts between armed organizations first suffer the evil consequences of armed conflicts. I would like to reiterate that we must continue to make efforts to quickly reach the genuine, lasting and eternal peace with genuine desire and patience as all citizens would certainly bear the brunt of it. The country may face a variety of different threats at any time. I would to conclude my speech here that holding our three main national causes for the perpetuation of independence and sovereignty and avoiding two extremes, all ethnics are urged to cooperate in the efforts for the emergence of the peaceful, modern and developed Union based on the democratic and federal system, in accord with a word “Success would be achieved through collective efforts”.

Thanks to all of you.

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