EU drops sanctions for the time being


Yesterday the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Council of the European Union agreed to drop sanctions, with the exception of arms sales for the time being. The relevant part of the press release from the EU is as follows:

The Council adopted the following conclusions:

  1. “The European Union has followed with respect and appreciation the historic changes in Myanmar/Burma over the past year and encourages the wide-ranging reforms to continue under President U Thein Sein, the Government and the Parliament, in a developing partnership with political and civil society actors, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. These reforms will need time to implement and to bear fruit. The foundation for development is legitimate government, the rule of law and national reconciliation. The EU praises the peaceful nature of the process and the readiness of the parties to work towards the same goals, with a shared vision for political, social and economic reforms.
  1. It also welcomes the concrete steps taken towards these ends:
    • the overall transparent and credible conduct of the by-elections on 1 April, resulting in the election of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy party, which will support steps towards national reconciliation;
    • the progress on changes in law and practice to enable freedom of assembly and of association and to eliminate the use of forced labour;
    • the release of a substantial number of political prisoners and the Government’s willingness to work on open cases;
    • the Government’s efforts to conclude cease-fire arrangements with armed groups in the ethnic regions, in particular with Karen National Union, and its readiness to look towards wider and more durable political settlements.
  1. These and other unprecedented developments allow the EU to open a new chapter in its relations with Myanmar/Burma. The Council therefore welcomes the upcoming official visit of the High Representative to the country, marking a new beginning in bilateral relations, as highlighted by the opening of an EU Office in Yangon.  As a means to welcome and encourage the reform process, the Council will suspend restrictive measures imposed on the Government, with the exception of the arms embargo, which it will retain. The Council will monitor closely the situation on the ground, keep its measures under constant review and respond positively to progress on on-going reforms.
  1. In this regard, the EU still expects the unconditional release of remaining political prisoners and the removal of all restrictions placed on those already released. It looks forward to the end of conflict and to substantially improved access for humanitarian assistance, in particular for those affected by conflict in Kachin State and along the Eastern border, as well as to addressing the status and improving the welfare of the Rohingyas.
  1. The EU wants now to enter into an active collaboration with Myanmar/Burma as a whole, with a view to assisting the reform process and contributing to economic, political and social development.

Meanwhile Aung San Suu Kyi and the 42 other members of her National League for Democracy did not take up their seats yesterday in the first sitting of parliament since the by-elections in which they were elected.

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