News / Asia

Transcript of VOA Burmese Service's Interview with Madeleine Albright

Albright Applauds Burma Reformsi
June 04, 2013 6:18 PM
Burmese Service Correspondent Kyaw Kyaw Thein interviewed former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Tuesday in Rangoon. She was in Burma for the first time since 1995, and gave a speech at Rangoon University.
Albright Applauds Burma Reforms
Kyaw Kyaw Thein
Burmese Service Correspondent Kyaw Kyaw Thein interviewed former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright June 4 in Rangoon. She was in Burma for the first time since 1995, and gave a speech at Rangoon University. Below is a transcript of the speech. Please note: Inaudible words from interviewer are in italics.

VOA:  “Thank you very much Madame Secretary for giving me the chance to interview you. First of all, what is it like to be for you back to (in) the country after 18 years?”

ALBRIGHT: “Well, it is a wonderful treat, I have to say. I have followed events in Burma all this time and watched the hard parts, the difficult parts and now with great surprise and pleasure, I think, some of the changes that are taking place. So I was very glad to come back. Also, to have the opportunity to talk with such a wide variety of people. On my first visit here, I met with the government officials and then with Aung San Suu Kyi, and this time, I have met with government officials and Aung San Suu Kyi, but also had the opportunity to meet with people from civil society, women’s groups, representatives of those, representatives of  ethnic political parties, religious representatives, and so it gave me a much better picture of various things that are going on in the country so it’s been a very good trip.”

VOA: “As you’ve said, you’ve met people from various segments of the country, including government and Aung San Suu Kyi. The most (main) question everyone wants to know and everyone is asking is whether the country is still in the position of turning back from the democratic reform. What’s your observation on that?”

ALBRIGHT: “I think that they are very much on the right road. My own sense is that it can not be reversed, but one never really knows because there’s always a dynamic in events. But I’m hopeful and the sense that I got from all the various groups that I talked to was while they see problems, they also are trying to figure out solutions and trying to find ways that they can learn from their own mistakes, but also examples from other countries so I think they are on the right track. They need the support of the international community. They need to have a variety of different help, whether it is in training and education; some obviously in the importance of investment and economic assistance. They have a very, very large gap between the rich and the poor, and people have expectations, and so they have to figure out and meet those expectations."

VOA: “What should the U.S. do more to make sure it (Burma) does not turn back?”

ALBRIGHT: "It isn’t just the U.S. I think that the U.S. has in fact eased the sanctions regimes, that we have exchanged ambassadors. President Obama has been here. President Thein Sein was in the United States, and I think we are showing all kinds of support.  I think we are looking at United States…USAID is here. Also, our nongovernmental organizations. I’m chairman of the board of the National Democratic Institute, and we have programs here now in terms of training parliamentarians, working with various groups in civil society, helping political party training, and we’re going to host a number of people from Burma in the United States, an exchange program so I think we’re going to be doing quite a lot.”       

VOA: "Do you notice for instance any change in the country you did not expect before? You didn’t hope before?"

ALBRIGHT: “I think that it’s hard for…For me, what I found interesting is that some of the people that…there’s a willingness to work together that I hadn’t seen before, frankly, but that’s not totally fair for me to say that since I hadn’t met with such a wide variety of people. I think there is also a recognition that things were wrong, that something different had to be done and that you couldn’t suppress people in the way that it happened in the previous 18 years ago and that Burma can flourish if, in fact, it recognizes its diversity and builds on that.”

VOA: “You are the highest ranking U.S. official ever to visit North Korea, and, as you know, Burma has military relationships with North Korea. How much should we be concerned that Burma may be maintaining secretly the military relations with North Korea?”

ALBRIGHT: “I do not know about that, but I do think that we have to make sure that the North Koreans are not a threat. President Obama has said that. We want to see a denuclearized Korean peninsula, and we also…there have been international steps in terms of sanctions against North Korea, and I think that if Burma wants to be a country in good standing internationally, then it’s important to abide by whatever international regulations or rules that have been made.”

VOA: “My very last question, you are the very first secretary of state, female secretary of state in the United States of America. There are now female…in Burma, there are female representatives and next-generation female leaders, I’m very much interested to know your suggestions and advice to those next-generation leaders especially for those women.”

ALBRIGHT: "Well I had a very interesting meeting with women representatives and women’s groups. I think that there has to be greater involvement of women politically and economically if Burma is going to really flourish. And I say that not just because I’m a woman and a feminist, but because we know that when half of the population is female, and you don’t use the talents, then you’re wasting a resource, and so I think that women have to be in political life, women have to own businesses, help in economic life and men need to understand that it’s better for the country, but opportunities have to be made, and women have to take advantage of them. So I was very glad to meet with the women’s groups.”

VOA: "Thank you very much Madame Secretary. I’m very much honored to be with you."

ALBRIGHT: "Thank you."

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs