Foreign Minister Brende to Myanmar

Foreign Minister Børge Brende and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi after the meeting where they discussed Myanmar's challenges and Norway's possible contribution. Photo: Norwegian Embassy

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende visited Myanmar from 5-6 of July 2017.

The main purpose of the visit was to fortify relation between Norway and Myanmar, and follow up on Norwegian priorities.
- Myanmar is undergoing an enormous transformation, following the transition from military rule to partial civil government. Norway will continue its broad commitment in the peace process and sustainable development, said Foreign Minister Børge Brende after the visit.

In the capital Nay Pyi Taw he had a long meeting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on further Norwegian support for the reform- and democratization process. The military still has 25 percent of the seats in the national assembly. Despite the ceasefire with a number of parties, the armed conflict continues in some areas and there are great tensions between populations in the Rakhine state.

- I had an open and sincere conversation with Aung San Suu Kyi, where we discussed the challenges the country faces and how Norway can contribute. We discussed the situation in the Rakhine state, access to humanitarian aid and support for renewable energy. Norway is also concerned about women's participation in the peace process and to protect freedom of speech, Brende said.

Brende also met with the military's Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the Minister of Culture and Religion. In addition, he met representatives of armed ethnic groups and the advisory commission for the situation in Rakhine, led by Kofi Annan with support from Norway.

Norway contributes with about 250 million NOK in aid to Myanmar, including humanitarian efforts in vulnerable areas. In July, the embassy embarked on a new media project to strengthen women's role in the peace process. In addition to the work on the peace process, Norway supports projects in political and economic reforms and management of natural resources. During Brende's visit, a five-year agreement was signed on development cooperation in the fisheries sector.

- Norway and Myanmar are both coastal nations with large marine resources. We wish to contribute to sustainable management of fishery resources and assist in the development of aquaculture. In the long run, this cooperation can also lead to new investments and more jobs in Myanmar, said the Foreign Minister.

Norwegian companies like Telenor, Jotun and Yara, and Norwegian businessmen, are already contributing to the development of jobs in Myanmar. The country, with over 50 million inhabitants, has a young population and a weak educational institutions. Norway therefore supports measures for both lower and higher education.

During an official handover ceremony with the authorities, Brende returned a Buddha sculpture that was illegally introduced to Norway in 2011. This is part of Norway's international effort against illegal trade in cultural treasures.