Swiss Ambassador Mr Paul Seger is upbeat on Myanmar’s democratic and economic progress over the last five years. In comments made to Mizzima reporter Hong Sar at a press conference to mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries held in Yangon, Mr Seger expressed his optimism that Swiss firms were looking into investing in the country.
He said one of the high points of Swiss-Myanmar relations was the opening of the embassy in 2012.
“We were actually, if I am not mistaken, the first European country which opened up an embassy after the opening of the country. That’s was really an important moment in time. But for me personally I would say the high point was last year’s elections in November. My wife and I participated as electoral observers. And I have to say time and time again, I was deeply impressed and I would even go as far to say moved by the people who were standing in line for hours to go and vote,” the Swiss Ambassador said.
Mr Seger hinted that the Swiss could learn a thing or two about democracy from the Myanmar people.
“In Switzerland we take democracy and voting as a birthright and I said to my wife that democracy is something we have to work for day by day. I think Myanmar showed us, the Swiss who think they have a real democracy, what democracy really means. Democracy is for the people and by the people and they showed us what it means,”
The ambassador said Swiss firms are interested in investing in Myanmar.
“To be very frank with you it will take time. The Swiss are not people who rush in. We are not in it for quick money. We are not ones who are following a ‘gold rush bonanza’ type of economy. But I am sure they will come. And I recently had talks with some firms – I cannot say which ones – who already told me they will start opening factories here in Myanmar. So that is a very positive sign,”
“But obviously one of my tasks as ambassador will be to go back home to talk to Swiss companies to say this is a country with a great potential. The moment is now to come and invest, to bring jobs, to start operating in Myanmar, the foundations are there,” he added.
Sustainable investment is important to Swiss firms.
“What we would like to have obviously, and I think it is important for Swiss companies, not only investment per se but sustainable investment. Sustainable meaning it is lined with human rights principles, with ecological and environmental principles, social principles, social responsibility, so again it is not this kind of ‘come and grab the riches of the country’ attitude but something which is cooperative, sustainable and in partnership,” the ambassador said.