Myanmar hopes for deal with Bangladesh on Rohingya refugees: Suu Kyi

Peace, stability in Rakhine not possible overnight: Suu Kyi

21 Nov 2017, 15:08 | updated: 21 Nov 2017, 16:42

Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to the media during a news conference with Estonia's Foreign Minister Sven Mikser (L) and Spain's Secretary of State Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ildefonso Castro (R) at the Asia Europe Foreign Ministers (ASEM) in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, November 21, 2017. REUTERS

Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar: Amid mounting international pressure, Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday planned to sign an MoU with Bangladesh this week to enable them to start the repatriation process of all Rohingyas from Bangladesh.

"What we're trying to do is to sign an MoU that will enable us to start the repatriation of all those refugees who have gone over the border," she told a crowded press conference at Myanmar International Convention Centre in Nay Pyi Taw.

Suu Kyi, however, said restoring peace and stability in the troubled Rakhine State will not be possible overnight.

"Nothing can be done overnight. But, we believe we'll be able to make a steady progress," said the Myanmar's de facto leader.

She said the Asian and European countries are keen to help Myanmar in its efforts to bring about peace and stability in Rakhine as quickly as possible.

Bangladesh is in talks with Myanmar bilaterally apart from international engagement on the safe and voluntary return of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh in the past months.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali who led the Bangladesh delegation in the ASEM Foreign Ministers' meeting will overstay there to further discuss the repatriation process with Suu Kyi on Wednesday and Thursday.

Over 620,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border and taken shelter in Cox's Bazar district since August 25.

The Myanmar foreign minister laid emphasis on maintaining peace and stability in the long run and making sure that conflict is not erupted again.

Meanwhile, the European Union has called for steps to ensure voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingyas to their places of origin in Rakhine State.

"Conditions for voluntary, safe and dignified return to their places of origin have to be put in place," said the High Representative of the EU in a declaration on Myanmar.

In the context of the 13th ASEM foreign ministers meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on November 20-21, the European Union welcomed the way forward outlined by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, starting by swiftly finalising a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh on return, and proceeding with implementing recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

The EU said it remains a strong and committed supporter to Myanmar's democratic transition.

The humanitarian and human rights situation in Rakhine remains extremely serious, reads the deceleration, a copy of which news agency UNB obtained.

The EU reiterated its call for the immediate end of all violence and the establishment of non-discriminatory rule of law and civilian administration in Rakhine.

The restoration of humanitarian access for the United Nations and international aid agencies is critical, it said.

Recalling Council conclusions on Myanmar of 16 October 2017, the European Union called on the government of Myanmar to ensure accountability for those responsible for committing atrocities.

The foreign ministers of Asian and European countries, in general, have agreed in many areas on Rohingya issue and asked for immediate cessation of hostilities, halting of outflow, early return of externally displaced Rohingyas from Bangladesh.

They also asked for implementation of recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission for durable solutions.

On Monday morning, the foreign ministers attended an informal briefing on Rakhine issue and discussed the issue.

The foreign ministers of Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Estonia, Germany, Malta, Russia, Luxemburg, France, Thailand, Hungary, Finland, Sweden and the High Representative of the EU attended it.

Earlier, in her opening remarks at the press conference, Suu Kyi said they have had very fruitful discussions over the last two days.

Over 500 delegates took part in the ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting focusing on deeper partnership for development and achieve sustainable development goals.

"In times of great change for the world, our cooperation on global affairs is more important than ever. At these times of global change, we increasingly look up to Asia as a natural partner. We, as European Union, want to make this partnership stronger, said High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Head of the EU delegation.

Sven Mikser, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, currently holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, said over the past two days, they had fruitful discussions on security, trade, climate change, sustainable development and connectivity.

"Connectivity, be it in the digital world or in the real, physical world, is all about linking people, bringing them closer together. Moving forward on our common Asian-European connectivity agenda therefore has the potential to foster increased trade, growth and prosperity," he said.