Foreign Minister on Myanmar Visit

Human rights, ongoing Rohingya humanitarian crisis are on the agenda - as well as opening a new Finnish Embassy.

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Diplomats from Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden are co-located at Nordic House in Yangon / Credit: Nordic House Facebook

Foreign Minister Tim Soini (Blue) is in Myanmar for a two day visit.

During his visit, Soini will attend the ASEM Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers Meeting in Naypyidaw; open a new Finnish embassy; and meet Myanmar’s de-facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi.

The main item on the agenda will be the ongoing Rohingya humanitarian crisis.

‘Ethnic Cleansing’

Rohingya refugees from Myanmar’s Muslim minority fled reported rapes, assaults, extra judicial killings and a scorched earth policy in their towns and villages.

In August, Rohingya rebels launched coordinated attacks on dozens of Myanmar police and army posts. The United Nations says the response from the Myanmar military amounts to ‘ethnic cleansing’ with the intention of forcing the Rohingya out of Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi have been widely criticised for not stopping the military crackdown, nor doing anything to stem the flow of refugees across the border into Bangladesh, where Finnish medical personnel have been providing vital hospital relief efforts. 

According to the Foreign Ministery, Finland is seeking ways to end the violence, and to allow refugees to return safely to their home region. Finnish ministers have already raised their concerns with Aung San Suu Kyi this year over the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority.

Finnish Embassy Upgrade

During the visit, Timo Soini will also be anointing a new Finnish Embassy in Yangon. Although it’s not the capital, it is the largest city in Myanmar where most diplomatic missions are located.

Currently, Finland has a Liaison Office located in Nordic House, along with diplomats from Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

While Finland’s first Ambassador to Myanmar Riikka Laatu will be focused on commercial relations, the mission will also support the peace process and democratic development; and good governance projects for forestry, education, and women’s and girl’s rights.