State visit to Myanmar: Speech during official luncehon
Your Excellency President Thein Sein,
The Queen and I would like to thank you for the warm and generous welcome we have received. We have been looking forward to this visit with great anticipation. I can assure you that your country has already made a powerful impression on us.
Today we are celebrating the close relationship between our peoples. Our countries are different in many ways. But we share basic values and goals for our societies and our peoples. I would like to commend both the Government and civil society organisations for your dedication to overcoming Myanmar’s challenges and solving the many tasks that lie ahead. The ongoing reform and democratisation process is challenging, but it is also vital for ensuring a prosperous future for all the people of Myanmar.
The memorandum of understanding on development cooperation that was signed earlier today symbolises a strengthening of relations between our two countries. It shows Norway’s commitment to consolidating and broadening relations through long-term development cooperation. Through this MoU, Norway and Myanmar have agreed that the overall goal for our bilateral development cooperation is to contribute to peace and reconciliation. We also aim to improve the environment for social and economic development.
We have agreed to focus our cooperation on two main areas.
The first area is peace, democratisation and the reform process.
The second main area of cooperation is energy, the environment and climate change, and the sustainable management of natural resources.
An area of future cooperation between Myanmar and Norway is environmental conservation. Myanmar is a country with extraordinary natural diversity, with landscapes ranging from the Himalayas in the North to coral reef archipelagoes in the South, and with densely forested areas throughout the country. Mr President, I know that you are giving high priority to conserving the beauty and biodiversity of Myanmar, and Norway stands ready to support you.
Good friends are sincere, and share their experience freely. One experience that has been crucial to democracy and prosperity in Norway has been the participation of women in our society. Over the years, changing governments have sought to facilitate the full participation of women in our society and workforce. I am sure the Queen will agree with me that a lot remains to be done before complete gender equality is achieved, but in Norway the importance of women’s full participation in society is undisputed.
Norwegian companies are increasingly investing in and trading with Myanmar. Norway gives priority to advocating social responsibility on the part of Norwegian companies, both when they operate in Norway and abroad.
I look forward to expanded cooperation and continued friendship between our countries. Allow me to propose a toast to the President and Daw Khin Khin Win, to Myanmar and its people and to the excellent relations between Myanmar and Norway.