24 senior figures from Myanmar in Switzerland for talks and professional training

Bern, Press release, 14.04.2014

A delegation from Myanmar today meets the state secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Yves Rossier, and other representatives of the federal government, the cantons and civil society in Bern. The discussions will focus on bilateral relations, sustainable investment and matters concerning federalism. The representatives from government, parliament, political parties and non-governmental organisations in Myanmar are currently undertaking a professional development course in Geneva. Switzerland is supporting Myanmar with its political transition.

The course offers senior staff from various ministries, political parties and non-governmental organisations who are actively involved in the transformation of Myanmar society and system of government the opportunity to discuss key issues with international experts over a three-week period. The issues under discussion include good governance, the separation of powers, decentralisation, the reform of the security sector, peace processes, dealing with the past and intercultural aspects of coexistence.
The course is being held by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, and was made possible by the FDFA as part of its commitment to promote peace and democracy in Myanmar. The purpose of the course is to impart specialist knowledge to senior officials in Myanmar on key matters, such as public participation in decision-making processes, freedom of the media, protection of minority groups and decentralisation, and to provide participants with an opportunity for dialogue with representatives of other states and of international organisations. The aim is to strengthen international and national networks in Myanmar and to support the opening-up of the country.

This is the second delegation from Myanmar to undertake a professional development course in Switzerland. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Didier Burkhalter, offered these opportunities to U Thein Sein, the President of Myanmar, during the opening of the embassy in November 2012.

Experience from the first course indicated that there is great demand for knowledge, dialogue and networking opportunities at international level amongst senior figures in Myanmar. However, it also revealed how important it is to the confidence-building process within the country for representatives of various institutions and interest groups and from government and civil society in Myanmar to attend a training course together. The participants from the first professional development course in Switzerland today maintain active dialogue and meet twice a year at the Swiss embassy in Yangon for professional development events and to foster the network.

The government in Myanmar is pursuing a policy of opening up. It has signed ceasefire agreements with almost all armed ethnic groups and is currently holding negotiations which are set to lead to a national ceasefire agreement. The reform process to date has triggered several positive developments. For example, hundreds of political prisoners have been released, media censorship has been abolished and the freedom of assembly and expression has been significantly strengthened.

In light of these positive developments, Switzerland has already declared its willingness to support the country on its path of reform and to assist it in overcoming the major challenges facing it. Besides additional financial resources for development cooperation and humanitarian aid, it has dispatched an expert on human security to provide targeted support for projects to promote peace and democracy.

Further information:

Mekong (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar)
Film: Myanmar – a long road ahead (de)
Geneva Centres "Maison de la Paix"

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47
E-Mail: info@eda.admin.ch


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs