- POSTED: 27 Dec 2013 13:33
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Compromise from all parties will be the key to a successful peace process in Myanmar, said the government's chief peace negotiator Aung Min. He also said the talks are vulnerable to breaking down anytime.
YANGON: Compromise from all parties will be the key to a successful peace process in Myanmar, said the government's chief peace negotiator.
Aung Min, who is also a minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said the talks are vulnerable to breaking down anytime, which is why it is important for the government and the ethnic armed groups to work hard to ensure success.
The meeting between the Myanmar government and some 20 ethnic armed groups' leaders in November was the first of its kind in the country.
The ethnic armies have been fighting government troops for decades. But now, both sides are willing to negotiate a national ceasefire.
The discussions however, are vulnerable to breaking down.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, Aung Min said: “When you look at the peace processes of other countries, many have failed after their conclusion. Myanmar may face such a failure too. However we're working very hard to make sure that doesn't happen here. But we cannot do it alone. Both parties must work together. That's why trust and confidence must be built, only then we can establish mutual trust. That will help us better cooperate and achieve peace.”
The negotiations however, have not been easy.
Aung Min said: “No country in the world is able to sign a peace accord immediately. Our peace process is the most difficult in the world because there are 16 ethnic armed groups here. In other countries, they only have one to two groups. Therefore we need to spend time to discuss with 16 different ethnic groups. But I think our peace process is progressing quickly.
“We have seen more successes today. Even though peace agreements have been signed at the top level, some hardliners on the ground disagree. That's why some clashes still occur. But we have to appreciate there are fewer clashes now.”
Even though the number of clashes has decreased, the government has still not been able to ink a nation-wide ceasefire accord.
The government had wanted to sign the pact with all the major ethnic armed groups by the middle of 2013, but that was pushed to December and will once again be postponed.
However, the government remains confident that Myanmar can achieve national ceasefire soon.
Aung Min said: “I think (the peace process) will succeed because we're now working with a new strategy. Unlike the past, we've now giving opportunities to the ethnic leaders. We are aware of their demands and we're prepared to make concessions. There's no reason why we can't succeed.
“To critics who believe the government and the ethnic armed groups can never come to an agreement, it's still very early to judge. For me, I will prove with my practical actions.”
The Myanmar government said it is studying civil conflict experiences in areas like Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland.
Like these examples, Aung Min reiterated that achieving national peace and ceasefire will not be easy. But he is hoping to present positive news of successful peace talks to regional leaders when they gather in Myanmar for their ASEAN meetings in 2014.
Some international observers have described the peace efforts in Myanmar as laudable. But the road ahead will be nothing short of being bumpy as the government and the ethnic armed groups try to set their differences aside to come to an eventual compromise.