Myanmar takes up ASEAN chair

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thein-seinMyanmar on January 1 has now actively taken up the ASEAN chairmanship for one year following the rotating principle of the ten-member bloc. Formally, the handover from Brunei did already take place in October 2013. Myanmar assumes the chair when the bloc is readying to becoming an economic community by 2015.

For more than two decades Myanmar was an isolated pariah state. But since 2011, the country has drawn massive international interest for its dramatic political and economic reforms. The government of president Thein Sein has released political prisoners, relaxed media censorship and opened the economy to foreign investment. The holding of the ASEAN chair thus symbolises Myanmar’s re-entry to the global community. At the same time, it gives Myanmar another opportunity to demonstrate that it is committed to democracy and wider integration with the world outside.

Myanmar joined ASEAN in 1997 and was to take the ASEAN chairmanship in 2006. But it was passed over amid international pressure because of its poor human rights record. There were fears that countries would boycott meetings there, as pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest and the US and the European Union had imposed economic and political sanctions.

In a speech late October 2013, president Thein Sein said his government’s recent reforms were a model for the region.

“Myanmar’s current political, economic and administrative reforms are [a] good example to other ASEAN countries,” he said, adding that Myanmar would strive to ensure that the country’s year-long tenure as head of the regional bloc is a success.

In 2014, Myanmar will have to navigate three major priorities: accelerating ASEAN economic integration, reducing tension in the South China Sea and preparing the agenda for the future of ASEAN.

No less than 280 meetings are planned during Myanmar’s ASEAN chairmanship, including two major summits.

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Myanmar on January 1 has now actively taken up the ASEAN chairmanship for one year following the rotating principle of the ten-member bloc. Formally, the handover from Brunei did already take place in October 2013. Myanmar assumes the chair when the bloc is readying to becoming an economic community by 2015. For more than two decades Myanmar was an isolated pariah state. But since 2011, the country has drawn massive international interest for its dramatic political and economic reforms. The government of president Thein Sein has released political prisoners, relaxed media censorship and opened the economy to foreign investment. The...

Reading Time: 1 minute

thein-seinMyanmar on January 1 has now actively taken up the ASEAN chairmanship for one year following the rotating principle of the ten-member bloc. Formally, the handover from Brunei did already take place in October 2013. Myanmar assumes the chair when the bloc is readying to becoming an economic community by 2015.

For more than two decades Myanmar was an isolated pariah state. But since 2011, the country has drawn massive international interest for its dramatic political and economic reforms. The government of president Thein Sein has released political prisoners, relaxed media censorship and opened the economy to foreign investment. The holding of the ASEAN chair thus symbolises Myanmar’s re-entry to the global community. At the same time, it gives Myanmar another opportunity to demonstrate that it is committed to democracy and wider integration with the world outside.

Myanmar joined ASEAN in 1997 and was to take the ASEAN chairmanship in 2006. But it was passed over amid international pressure because of its poor human rights record. There were fears that countries would boycott meetings there, as pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest and the US and the European Union had imposed economic and political sanctions.

In a speech late October 2013, president Thein Sein said his government’s recent reforms were a model for the region.

“Myanmar’s current political, economic and administrative reforms are [a] good example to other ASEAN countries,” he said, adding that Myanmar would strive to ensure that the country’s year-long tenure as head of the regional bloc is a success.

In 2014, Myanmar will have to navigate three major priorities: accelerating ASEAN economic integration, reducing tension in the South China Sea and preparing the agenda for the future of ASEAN.

No less than 280 meetings are planned during Myanmar’s ASEAN chairmanship, including two major summits.

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