Transcript of Press Encounter by Special Advisor Ibrahim Gambari after meeting the Foreign Minister of Thailand
Bangkok, 5 October 2007
First I have a statement to make. Then I would be delighted to answer your
Let me start by expressing my gratitude to the Thai Government for the
hospitality it has extended to me and to members of my delegation. I have
just had a very constructive, very detailed, very productive meeting with
the Foreign Minister, Nitya Pibulsonggram, and will meet later this
afternoon with the Prime Minister to whom I have a special message to
deliver on behalf of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban
As you know, I made a visit to Myanmar from 29 September to 2 October at
the height of the crisis there. My mission was undertaken with the full
support of the international community, including Myanmar's neighbours,
ASEAN countries and the Security Council of the United Nations. I have
since reported to the Secretary-General and briefed the President of the
General Assembly and the Security Council on the findings of my mission.
The President of the General Assembly issued a strong statement of
endorsement of the mission that I undertook to Myanmar and the
recommendations from my report to the United Nations. And on the 11
October, the Security Council for the first time took action on the issue
of Myanmar in the form of a statement, in which it deplored the recent
incidents in Myanmar, expressed its support for the Secretary-General's
good offices and for my mission, and called on Myanmar to cooperate with
our efforts, with the support of ASEAN and the regional countries.
The Secretary-General is also about to submit his annual report on Myanmar
to the General Assembly which entrusted him with the good offices mandate
for Myanmar. In follow-up to my mission, the Secretary-General has
instructed me to visit the region once again to discuss with the regional
leaders how to create the necessary political atmosphere so that I'll be
able to return to Myanmar shortly.
Bangkok is the first stop of my trip, to be followed by Kuala Lumpur,
Jakarta, New Delhi, Beijing and Tokyo.
The objectives of my visit are threefold:
First, to raise with Myanmar's neighbours and regional partners the UN's
serious concerns at the continuing reports of human rights violations in
the wake of the recent demonstrations. Although we have taken note of the
initial steps taken by the authorities to de-escalate tensions -- e.g.
further limitations of the curfew, reduction of visible military presence
in the streets, restoration of internet access -- the reports of arrests of
the remaining student leaders, interrogations and acts of intimidation are
extremely disturbing and run counter to the spirit of mutual engagement
between the United Nations and Myanmar. These actions must stop at once.
Let me reiterate here the UN's call on the Myanmar Government to release
all political detainees, including those arrested during the
demonstrations, and to allow access by the ICRC to those in detention.
Second, to consult with and seek the active support of regional partners on
the next steps in the implementation of the Secretary-General's good
offices, with a view to returning to Myanmar as soon as possible in order
to offer our assistance to any efforts at dialogue and national
reconciliation that is all inclusive in nature.
The third aspect of my current mission is to discuss with regional partners
any efforts or initiatives complementary to ours at the UN which they may
be taking in their own right, and coordinate accordingly.
The United Nations is committed to doing everything it can to promote a
peaceful resolution to the crisis and help Myanmar address the political
and economic challenges underlying the recent unrest. Any efforts by the
United Nations will require working closely with Myanmar's neighbours and
ASEAN partners. The sustained and active support of the region, through the
strong voice and engagement of regional partners, has to be there in order
for Myanmar to move forward.
I would be delighted to take some of your questions.
Q: The EU Foreign Ministers are meeting today to discuss possible measures
for Myanmar to move into democratic path and they will discuss tightening
sanctions. Do you agree with that and would economic incentives be a
better idea to push Burma into a democratic path?
A: What the member states -- such as the EU or individual countries --
whatever measures they take, that will be in their own hands. I am
encouraged today by an article written in the International Herald Tribune
by the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom and France suggesting that
the approach to Myanmar needs to be broader than the issue of sanctions.
There have to be some economic incentive so that, working with the
government of Myanmar, we can address some of the underlying causes of the
Q: Your itinerary does not mention any trip to Myanmar. What exactly is the
status of your trip there? And what are you going to say when you get
A: Well [UTF-8?]Iâ€ ve just got back from Myanmar. My hope is that soon after
mission, I will be able go to Myanmar. I have an invitation to return there
by the middle of November. The visit has been confirmed by the government.
And I hope that I can go there sooner than that.
Q: The Chinese government made it clear that it is opposed to any formal
actions against the generals. How concerned are you that this whole process
of going around the region and talking to people is just empty rhetoric?
A: Well, the purpose of the Secretary [UTF-8?]Generalâ€ s good offices role is
change the behaviour of the regime and we believe that all those who have
influence in that process ought to be engaged. I have had very good
discussions with the Foreign Minister this morning. When received by the
Prime Minister, I will deliver a written message from the Secretary
General. Thailand is doing what it could, we are working closely together
and we believe that if we pool all our efforts, we could move the situation
in Myanmar in the right direction.
Q: Are you concerned about the recent directives suggesting that the
government is not really acting in good faith? On the one hand, they say
they are willing to talk to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; but on the other hand
they are really showing no signs of easing their crackdown.
A: Well, [UTF-8?]thatâ€ s why we have expressed very strongly the concerns
Secretary General and of the international community that they should go
along the path that they have started, which is to reduce the number of
hours of the curfew with a view to lifting it completely. We welcome the
fact that they have appointed a liaison officer to start dialogue. We
believe that the earlier a dialogue starts the better -- a dialogue that
should lead to national reconciliation that is all the more inclusive. We
welcome the removal of the military from the streets. But certainly all
these will be damaged by all the continued reports of actions that are
detrimental to national reconciliation and to overall long-lasting peace
and prosperity in Myanmar.
Q: Do you think the Thai government is doing enough as [UTF-8?]Myanmarâ€ s
in restoring peace and prosperity in the country?
A: I believe so. But we can always do better [UTF-8?]â€" all of us. Not just
Thailand, but all the countries that I will be visiting -- India, China,
Malaysia and Indonesia -- and the United Nations, we could do more. We are
doing the best under the circumstances. But we will not rest until the
goals that we all care, that is peace and prosperity, democratization and
full respect for human rights, is attained in Myanmar.
Q: What concretely do you think the neighbouring countries should do?
A: It' s up to them to decide. That' s why I' m here. I want to listen, and to
encourage and to promote coordination and cooperation because if we all
concert our efforts, I believe we can get our objectives. I guess one or
maybe two more questions.
Q: What time frame do you have to achieve these objectives?
A: I think the earlier the better. To stop actions that are a setback to
democracy and to full respect for human rights, and to move in the
direction of dialogue with a view to national reconciliation that is all
the more inclusive.
Q: How do you see the potential of Myanmar' s government moving
A: Well I don' t see much alternative because the situation in
Myanmar has changed over the years. The posture of ASEAN has changed. The posture of
the international community has changed. For the first time the Security
Council is on record as taking action, adopting a statement for the first
time which has three elements. One, condemning some of the actions taken by
the government, calling for restraint by all sides, particularly the
government; supporting the good offices role of the Secretary General; and
also supporting the commencement of dialogue as the only way to really
address the underlying challenges facing Myanmar.
Q: You have two days in Bangkok, two days in Kuala Lumpur. Why spending
five days in Jakarta? Is there something important there?
A:Don' t read too much into it. We had wanted to go to China early.
But as you know, they are busy with their [Communist Party] Congress.
Q: Are you concerned by the message on Myanmar' s state television on Friday
night saying that the UN Security Council should not have made a statement
about the situation?
A: I' m more concerned about what they do not what they say.