During the discussions at Lohn manor, President Didier Burkhalter recognised the steps taken by Myanmar on the path towards peace, democracy, international cooperation and prosperity and encouraged Myanmar to continue to pursue its reform policies. Switzerland wishes to support the country on that path and strengthen its commitment in the areas of democratisation, peace building, the economy and development. Switzerland has had an embassy in Myanmar since 2012. Didier Burkhalter, in his capacity as head of the FDFA, and President U Thein Sein met for the first time at the opening ceremony. There have since been a number of high-level meetings between representatives from Switzerland and Myanmar.
Bilateral relations should be deepened on various levels. Switzerland’s programme to combat poverty and promote peace has a budget of CHF 150 million for the period 2013 to 2017. The priorities are on agriculture and food security, health and governance, democratisation, measures to promote peace, and vocational education and training. A vocational training centre in Yangon is benefitting from support amounting CHF 9 million between 2013 and 2022. Cooperation is defined in a framework contract.
In order to inject dynamism into relations, the two presidents have agreed in Bern to establish a high-level bilateral dialogue. This should allow all bilateral issues to be discussed in an open and constructive manner. An economic dialogue between the two countries is already in place. The first round of talks was held in Myanmar last year. The second round is scheduled to take place in Switzerland in 2015 with the aim of developing economic relations, which are currently at a modest level.
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