Wednesday, April 18, 2012

E.U. ready to ease Burma sanctions

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 14:04 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – The European Union will ease more  sanctions on Burma early next week, E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Tuesday.

The EU was widely expected to authorize investments and imports of sensitive products but the lifting of an arms embargo does not seem to be on the agenda, said an article in Agence France Presse.

Ashton said she will visit Burma on April 28-30, and has invited the foreign minister to visit the E.U.

“We need to go further and build a partnership with Myanmar,” she said adding that she had invited Burma’s  foreign minister to Brussels.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Photo:

She said the E.U. will now enter “an active collaboration with Myanmar,” to assist the reform process and to contribute to economic, political and social development.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and the country's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi issued a joint call on Friday for the suspension of sanctions. The U.S. lifted sanctions on Tuesday to allow for humanitarian investments and nongovernmental groups to work in Burma. Australia and Norway have made similar move this week.

In January, E.U. diplomats discussed an aid package to Burma, perhaps reaching 150 million euros. The package would be aimed at health, education, agriculture and institutional capacity building.

Observers said a key requirement would probably be full access to ethnic refugees who have fled widespread fighting and are surviving on limited aid.

In 2011, the European Commission donated over 22 million euros (US$ 30 million) for humanitarian and disaster relief activities inside Burma and refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border.

The E.U. said it would open a representative office in Burma to manage aid programes and promote political dialogue.

The 27-nation E.U. lifted a travel ban on 87 Burmese officials, including Thein Sein, in February but kept an assets freeze against them.

Burma activists are calling for Western governments not to ease all sanctions until all political prisoners are released, more progress is made to resolve the decades old dispute with armed ethnic groups, and more democratic reforms are instituted.

Leave a Reply