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EU Likes, Supports Burma (Myanmar) Thaw …

  • April 21st, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

burma-pagodas.jpgThe European Union has signalled the lifting of some of the sanctions it has imposed on Burma (Myanmar), affecting travel by government members and trade and economic relations.

The move was scheduled for approval by a Council of Foreign Ministers from the EU states on 23.4.12.

Already the EU High representative responsible for external relations, Catherine Ashton, had saluted the policy thaw in Burma, with the military based regime liberalising its stand on several fronts, including moves towards democratisation.

burma-aung-pbs2.jpgThat included the release from detention of the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi (picture), allowing her to lead a team of new members into parliament after successfully contesting a set of by-elections late last month.

In a speech prepared for the European Parliament at Strasbourg, 17.4.12, Baroness Ashton delivered some strong praise for the change in attitude in ruling circles, and the rapprochement being reached among the parties.

“After decades of internal repression, we see dramatic and hopeful changes taking place in Burma”, she said.

“Here is a democratic transition unfolding in a peaceful, collaborative fashion, –acclaimed by the domestic electorate and the international community.

“Myanmar is such a rare case.

“Everything we see points to a Government which is serious about change and wants to end its country’s isolation.

“President U Thein Sein shows courage and leadership.

“It would be a surprise if he did not face resistance from some who have profited from the old system.

“Most importantly, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the President have established a relationship of trust.”


EU policy statement on Burma (Myanmar)

Since early 2011, Myanmar (Burma) has seen a remarkable departure from decades of authoritarian rule. The Government has committed itself to reforms and some significant steps have been undertaken since, to establish a more open society. The release of a number of political prisoners, the willingness to address ecological and economic concerns voiced by civil society, easing media censorship and the passing of legislation in the field of labour law help to make the promises of reform more credible.

The prime goal of the EU is to help a legitimate, civilian government to pursue the social and economic development of the country, respecting human rights and rebuilding relations with the international community.

The EU’s balanced policy vis-à-vis Myanmar includes significant assistance to the people of the country. The restrictive measures express the EU’s critical views about the limited progress with regard to the respect for human rights. With an inevitably long-term perspective to the political process, the EU pays attention to the development of civil society and to reducing its isolation, and to progressing on the Millennium Development Goals.

The EU uses its dialogue with the Government – bilaterally, in the framework of the ASEM process and of EU-ASEAN meetings – to raise the Union’s concerns and to encourage the Government to continue the process of positive change.

See also, EUAustralia Online: “Burmese democracy leader’s message …”; 2.2.11; “”, 1.2.11; “Aung San Suu Kyi: what follows?”, 14.11.10.


EU External Action, European Union, Brussels, “Myanmar (Burma)”,, (21.4.12).

European Union, Brussels, “Catherine Ashton EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Speech on Myanmar European Parliament Strasbourg, 17 April 2012”, SPEECH/12/273, 17.4.12.

Friends of Europe, Brussels, (Briefing) “Encouraging Myanmar’s Transition: a role for Europe”, 20.4.12. www.friendsof, (21.4.12).

Pictures  Bagan Pagodas, Burma (Myanmar), EU