Thailand proposes ASEAN Troika to mediate Myanmar crisis

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Thailand has proposed a collaboration between three or more ASEAN member nations to engage with Myanmar’s military junta, to mitigate the crisis and restore peace in the conflict-stricken country. The nation maintained its commitment to extend humanitarian assistance and foster peace amid the turmoil.

Nikorndej Balankura, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, announced yesterday that Thailand, through Laos, the current ASEAN chair, has coordinated to establish what it refers to as ASEAN Troika and Troika plus meetings to bring about peace in Myanmar.

The ASEAN Troika comprises the foreign ministers of the previous, current, and future chair nations of the bloc, namely Indonesia, Laos, and Malaysia. The plus signifies the involvement of other ASEAN members interested in peace facilitation or concerned about the crisis.

Balankura stated that the proposed meetings would likely take place in Thailand, expressing the nation’s preparedness to mediate negotiations between Myanmar’s junta and opposition groups. He emphasised that the conflict is not between Thailand and Myanmar and that Thailand’s position on the crisis is clear.

The Thai government is committed to providing humanitarian assistance to all groups affected by the conflict, based on principles of national security, international relations, and human rights.

“The conflict affects every country, not just Thailand, which shares a border with Myanmar. Thailand is an advocate for peace, so we need to emphasise our position as an active promoter of peace.”

According to Balankura, the situation is not deemed highly critical as the majority of refugees have returned to Myanmar. The impact on Thailand remains minimal and primarily affects border trade, which is anticipated to be temporary.

The government committee overseeing the situation along the Thai-Myanmar border, led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, is contemplating the establishment of sub-committees with the National Security Council (NSC).

Mae Sot

Balankura noted that the situation along the Thai-Myanmar border has improved in the past 48 hours, with residents reporting no gunfire. However, he stressed that the committee would remain vigilant due to the fluid nature of the situation.

Parnpree visited Tak’s Mae Sot district on Tuesday, April 23, where he reported no conflict at the second Thailand-Myanmar Friendship bridge since Sunday. Most refugees who had fled the fighting over the weekend have already returned.

He reassured Thai locals about the measures being implemented by the government to alleviate the impacts of the Myanmar crisis on their livelihoods.

The last group of 658 Myanmar people who sought refuge in Mae Sot yesterday voluntarily returned after the situation in Myawaddy improved, local authorities confirmed. They were given essential supplies, including medicines, before crossing the Moei River back to Myawaddy, reported Bangkok Post.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that a Myanmar rebel group had withdrawn from Myawaddy following a junta counteroffensive. A spokesperson for the Karen National Union (KNU) said the temporary retreat came after the return of junta soldiers to the strategically significant area, facilitating annual foreign trade of more than US$1 billion (approximately 36 billion baht).

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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