EU urges Myanmar to reform

Updated On: Mar 15, 2005

Jakarta- As expected, the issue ofMyanmarwas raised during a one-day meeting of Asean ministers and their European Union counterparts on March 10. However, unlike in past meetings, theMyanmar representativepresent did not lash out at the delegates for interfering in his country’s domestic affairs.

A conference source told The Straits Times that U Thaung Tun, a Myanmar Foreign Ministry official, had briefed the 15th Asean-EU Ministerial Meeting on his country’s domestic developments.

Mr Tun, the director-general of the ministry’s political department, was standing in for Foreign Minister U Nyan Win.

"Unlike in the past, when Myanmar officials would lash out at critics for interfering in its internal affairs, the Myanmar representative took pains to explain the steps being taken to introduce democratic reforms in the country,” the source said.

In a joint statement, the EU and Asean ministers called onMyanmar“to grant access to the special representative of the United Nations’ secretary-general and to continue effective cooperation with all United Nations’ agencies”.

The statement did not mention the request for the release of opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The request was made byLuxembourg, which currently holds the EU presidency.

The EU wants Asean to pressureMyanmar's military junta to introduce democracy but Asean has resisted, saying non-interference in its members' internal affairs was a core principle.

The ministerial meeting also called for closer security cooperation between the two groupings and stressed the need to maintain stability and the fight against terrorism and transnational crime.

“A strong Asean is probably the best guarantee for peace and stability in the region,” the EU said in a document presented at the meeting.

* EU presses for reform in Myanmar (The Straits Times, March 11)

* Asean, EU increase pressure on Myanmar (The Jakarta Post, March 12)