U.S. to downgrade Myanmar ties, decides not to send ambasssador 米国がミャンマーとの関係を格下げ 大使を見送ることを決定

An article from Nikkei Asia. We are hoping that this type of action to not recognize the military regime will spread.

December 8, 2022 17:22 JS

BANGKOK/YANGON — The U.S. will downgrade its diplomatic relations with Myanmar, with the incumbent American ambassador, Thomas Vajda, returning home later this month and Washington deciding not to send a successor, Nikkei Asia has learned.

バンコク/ヤンゴン–米国はミャンマーとの外交関係を格下げする。現職のThomas Vajda米国大使が今月末に帰国し、ワシントンは後継者を派遣しないことを決定したことがわかった。

“Deputy chief of mission Deborah Lynn will assume duties as charge d’affaires at [the] U.S. Embassy Rangoon upon Ambassador Vajda’s departure,” a State Department spokesperson responded to Nikkei by email.


With the move, President Joe Biden’s administration will make it clear that it does not recognize Myanmar’s current regime, before the military government in Naypyitaw conducts a general election in 2023. The U.S. has criticized the anticipated election, saying that “there’s no chance it could be free and fair.” The regime assumed power through a military takeover in February 2021.

このことにより、バイデン大統領率いる米政府は、ミャンマーの現政権を認めないことを明確にすることになる。軍事政権は2023年に総選挙を実施するとしているが、米国はこの選挙について、”自由で公正な選挙になるとは考えられない “と批判している。現政権は2021年2月、クーデターにより政権を奪取している。

The U.S. did not assign ambassadors to Myanmar for about 20 years while a former military government ruled the country, beginning in the 1990s. Myanmar’s democratic process accelerated after the election in 2010, and the U.S. quickly moved to normalize relations ahead of other countries, as part of then-President Barack Obama’s signature “pivot to Asia” diplomacy.


In late 2011, Hillary Clinton became the first incumbent U.S. secretary of state to visit Myanmar in 57 years. A year later, Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country after partly lifting economic sanctions. Later, Derek Mitchell, who had been in charge of Myanmar affairs and was considered the most knowledgeable about U.S. Asia policy, was appointed the first U.S. ambassador to the country in 2012.


The move was seen as symbolic of Washington’s intention to prioritize the normalization of relations, but ties are noticeably fraying once again.


Ambassador Vajda arrived in Myanmar in January 2021, just before the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted. The two ambassadors who preceded him served in the country for about four years each, but Vajda will leave the country after serving a little less than two years.


The U.S. is following Western and other countries that have taken similar action. Germany, Italy, Australia, Canada and South Korea are keeping their embassies in Myanmar without ambassadors. “Diplomatic missions from European countries have mutually agreed not to send new ambassadors to Myanmar,” a resident diplomat in Myanmar said.


U.S. diplomat Thomas Vajda, right, presents his credentials to Myanmar President Win Myint in January 2021. (Photo from the official Facebook page of the Myanmar President’s Office) 2021年1月、ミャンマーのウィン・ミィン大統領に信任状を提出する米国のトーマス・ヴァイダ外交官(右)。(写真はミャンマー大統領府の公式Facebookページより)。

Upon arriving, ambassadors have to present their credentials from the head of their country to the head of the country receiving them. In Myanmar at present, ambassadors would present their credentials to Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, commander in chief of the nation’s military and chairman of the State Administration Council (SAC), the official name of the regime’s governing body.


“Western nations are unwilling to present credentials to the man who led the coup,” the diplomat said. They are afraid that such an act could give the wrong impression that they have recognized Myanmar’s military regime as the country’s legitimate government.


The U.K. has followed a more complex path. Pete Vowles arrived in Myanmar as ambassador in 2021 but did not present his credentials and changed his title on a social media account to “Head of British Embassy in Myanmar.” The SAC rejected this change. He was subsequently not allowed to reenter Myanmar for several months, but Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs permitted him to temporarily enter the country “to collect his personal belongings.” Vowles left Myanmar in July.

英国の場合はより複雑な道をたどってきた。Pete Vowles氏は2021年に大使としてミャンマーに到着したが、信任状を提示せず、ソーシャルメディアのアカウントで肩書を “在ミャンマー英国大使館長 “に変更した。SACはこの変更を却下した。その後、Vowles氏は数ヶ月間ミャンマーへの再入国を許されなかったが、最終的には “私物を回収するため “に一時的に入国することが許可され、Vowlesは今年7月にミャンマーを出国している。

Countries geographically closer to Myanmar are divided on the issue.


Ambassador Mongkol Visitstump of neighboring Thailand presented his credentials to Min Aung Hlaing on Wednesday, formally taking up a post that had been left vacant since March. Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei — all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — have kept their ambassadors absent in Myanmar, where charges d’affaires have been managing embassy operations.

隣国タイのMongkol Visitstump大使は、水曜日にミン・アウン・フライン氏に信任状を提出し、3月以来空席となっていたポストに正式に就任した。マレーシア、フィリピン、ブルネイ(いずれもASEAN加盟国)は、大使をミャンマーに駐在させないまま、代理大使が大使館の運営に当たっている。

Since the military takeover, several nations including India, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and Belarus have presented their ambassadors’ credentials to Min Aung Hlaing.


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