On 22 – 26 February, the Speaker Urban Ahlin visited Myanmar (Burma) together with a delegation of members of the Riksdag and the Secretary-General of the Riksdag. Following positive democratic developments during recent years, Myanmar's relations with the world have improved and a number of contacts have been established between Sweden and Myanmar.
The purpose of the visit was to gain an insight into and discuss democratic reforms, the peace process, human rights and economic and social development. The Speaker, who last visited Myanmar in 2011, noted that developments have been positive and formidable since then, but that many difficulties still remain.
"A democratic development has begun, and people's expectations are enormous. At the same time, the challenges are also considerable, particularly as regards peace, human rights and economic development," says the Speaker Urban Ahlin.
The Speaker and his delegation had meetings in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, with a number of people including the Speaker of the Upper House, the House of Nationalities (Amyotha Hluttaw), U Mahn Win Khaing Than, and the Speaker of the Lower House, the House of Representatives (Pyithu Hluttaw), U Win Myint. They also met the President U Htin Kyaw, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Advisor to the State Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the Chair of an advisory commission Thura U Shwe Mann.
At a meeting with Chairs of various committees of both houses, the subjects of infrastructure and parliamentary cooperation were discussed.
A visit to Yangon included meetings with representatives of various sectors of society and civil society, The delegation met human rights activists, women's organisations, journalists, entrepreneurs, representatives from UN bodies active in Myanmar and youth organisations. The meetings included talks on peace, continued democratic development, human rights for all groups and economic and social development.
"In order to enable people to continue to feel confidence in democracy, it is important that there are also improvements in people's daily lives," says Urban Ahlin.
Several meetings also raised these aspects of development in Myanmar. Investments into new bus lines in Yangon, infrastructure and new growing industries such as tourism are examples of issues that were raised.
The Speaker's delegation consisted of Leif Pettersson (Social Democratic Party), Ann-Charlotte Hammar Johnson (Moderate Party) and Josef Fransson (Sweden Democrats) as well as the Secretary-General of the Riksdag Kathrin Flossing.