Monday, April 27, 2009

EU extends sanctions on Burma for another year

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The European Union (EU) on Monday renewed its sanctions imposed on Burma’s military rulers for another year during its foreign ministers meet in Luxembourg.

The European Council, on Monday called on the Burmese junta to release detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and also said the junta needs to take steps necessary to make its 2010 election credible, transparent, and an inclusive process based on international standards.

“In these circumstances, the Council deems it necessary to extend the current EU Common Position by another year, including the restrictive measures,” said the EC’s press statement released on Monday.

The EC, however said, it is ready to revise, amend or reinforce the measures it has already adopted in the light of developments on the ground. The Council reiterates that the EU stands ready to respond positively to genuine progress in Burma.

“The EU remains open to dialogue with the authorities of Burma/Myanmar and is willing to meet them at the ministerial level in the margins of the ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in Hanoi in May 2009,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, Harn Yawnghwe, director of the Brussel-based Euro-Burma Office said he supports the EU’s position towards Burma saying the extension of sanctions on Burma highlights that there is a lack of political developments in the country.

“The statement [of EU] reminds that there is still no progress in Burma,” Yawnghwe said.

“EU cannot change its position toward the regime unless there are signs of changes in the country.”

Yawnghwe said, though EU wants to see Burma moving towards changes, the military regime is continually resisting it.

The EU, since 1996, has had a common position on Burma, which includes economic sanctions, an arms embargo and visa bans on Burmese military officials and their family members because of Burma’s poor human rights record and lack of democracy. The common position also restricts visits to Burma, by high-level officials from EU member states.

The EU further tightened its sanctions on Burma following the junta’s crackdown on monk-led demonstrators in September 2007.

However, the EU said, it is open to talks with the Burmese military regime and is willing to meet them at the ministerial level in the Asian European Meeting (ASEM) Foreign Ministers meet in Hanoi, Vietnam in May, the report said.

Harn said, “Only through dialogue can the crisis in Burma be solved”.

In response to the humanitarian crisis caused by Cyclone Nargis that lashed Burma in May last year, the European Commission provided Euro 39 million (USD 50 million) for the initial recovery project in 2008.

The Council also said, it welcomes the extension of the Tripartite Core Group, formed with the Burmese government and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), to another one year and hopes that they would be able to continue its effective role to facilitate international assistance.

“In this context, it is critical that unfettered access by humanitarian agencies continues to be ensured. The EU recalls its large and growing role as a donor to the country and stands ready to increase its assistance to the people of Burma/Myanmar further,” the EC said.

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