Wed 30 Mar 2005
Filed under: International,News
Brussels: The European Commission called Wednesday on Myanmar to meet key demands including freeing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi before it takes over the chairmanship of the ASEAN regional bloc next year.
But the European Union (EU)’s executive arm also said it remains willing to talk to Myanmar leaders, even though planned talks at a recent meeting of the EU and the Asian group failed because Yangon did not send its foreign minister.
A spokeswoman noted that critics — notably in Malaysia — have had “things to say” about whether Myanmar’s military regime should be allowed to chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2006.
“We hope very much that the problems that we currently have with Burma/Myanmar could be resolved before then,” said Emma Udwin, spokeswoman for EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
The EU notably wants Myanmar to free Aung San Suu Kyi, to launch a “national dialogue for reconciliation that is truly inclusive” and that all parties be able to participate in a national convention.
“We hope that in the time between now and then we can see some concrete improvements,” she said.
The EU last September bolstered sanctions against Myanmar, notably including a travel ban, after Yangon failed to meet EU demands including the release of democracy leader
But the commission on Wednesday reiterated the EU’s willingness to meet Myanmar’s leaders, as planned at a March 10 EU-ASEAN meeting in Jakarta.
Those proposed talks, which would have marked a thawing of frozen diplomatic contacts between the European bloc and Yangon, did not occur because Burma’s foreign minister was not present.
“There was a willingenss to hold such a meeting. I’m not aware that it has been revoked in any way,” said Udwin, although adding that no date has been set for fresh talks.
Malaysian MPs are planning to table a motion calling on Myanmar to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and speed up political reforms or face being passed over as ASEAN chair next year.