Letters to the Editor — October, 2010
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LETTER

Letters to the Editor — October, 2010


By THE IRRAWADDY Wednesday, October 20, 2010


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In fact, EUSE Fassino has never visited Burma/Myanmar and the junta has not rejected any request to visit the country.

Your editorial goes on to state that “EU common policy is to maintain or increase sanctions against the regime”. This is a gross oversimplification of our policy. As the Conclusion of the Foreign Affairs Council dated 26 April (http://www.consiliun.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/11440.pdf) state, “the Council underlines its readiness to revise, amend or reinforce the measure it has already adopted in light of developments on the ground. The EU stands ready to respond positively to genuine progress in Burma/Myanmar.”

You further point out that the EU could increase pressure on the Burmese authorities “if necessary, including imposing an arms embargo on Burma”. I am sure you will be pleased to learn that an embargo on arms, munitions and military equipment has in fact been in place since the EU Common Position was initially adopted in 1996 (Common Position 96/635/CFSP).

You also wrongly accuse the EU of following a policy of “cutting funding for refugees on the Thai-Burmese border.” Since 1994, the European Commission has spent more than 140 million EUR for Burmese refugees on Thailand. Annual allocations have in fact seen a continuous increase over the year. In addition to this substantial financial commitment, the EU as the biggest donor to the camps has been instrumental in establishing, together with other donors, a policy dialogue with the Royal Thai Government to explore jointly how sustainable livelihoods for the refugees can be found, thus improving their lives.

You also make reference to the latest report of UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojeo Quintana, and claim the EU has remained “silent” on this issue. This ignores yet again the Conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council dated 26 April which state that “the Council welcomes the adoption of Resolution 13/25 of the UN Human Rights Council, and endorses the Progress report by the UN special Rapporteur, Mr. Quintana. It calls upon the authorities of Burma/Myanmar to cooperate with him in a constructive manner and comply in full with the UN’s recommendations, by taking urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human right and humanitarian law.”

In addition, the EU has on countless occasions expressed its critical views about the absence of tangible progress with regard to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Contacts with the Burmese government- in the framework of the ASEAM process and of EU-ASEAM meetings- are regularly used to raise the Union’s concerns.

Lastly, as regards your speculation of divisions in opinion among EU Member states as to what the EU’s policy on Burma/Myanmar should be, I would like to assure you that relations with Burma/Myanmar continue to be framed by the EU Decision (see http://europlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:105:0022:0108:EN:PDF) which is fully supported and vigilantly implemented by all 27 EU Member states and the European Commission with a view to bringing about a peaceful transition to a democratic, civilian and inclusive system of government. In this regard, let me add that EUSE Fassino’s activities and contacts with both regional stakeholders and the Burma/Myanmar military authorities are fully in line with the objectives and goals of the EU Decision as outlined above.
                                                                                                                  
David LIPMAN
Ambassador
The Head of Delegation
EUROPEAN UNION
DELEGATION TO THAILAND


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dear Editor,

Regarding the online article, “Burma, the Opposition and Economic Development” [February 20, 2009; http://www2.irrawaddy.com/article.php?art_id=15159]:

As a Burmese professor in a foreign university abroad, I am outraged by the stupidity of Steinberg's attack on the NLD and the dignity of Burmese civilization and the army as a whole.



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