Oct 12, 2011

Norway Deputy FM: “Sanctions are not constructive and we need to start the process of removing them"

The visiting deputy foreign minister of the Norway has expressed recognition of the will of President U Thein Sein to work towards the establishment of a democratic state, describing the reform process in Myanmar as encouraging.

Norway recognised that statements by President U Thein Sein demonstrated a will to move towards democracy, Mr Espen Barth Eide told journalists after meeting Daw Aung San Su Kyi at her University Avenue home on October 8.

It was the second time he had held talks with Daw Aung San Su Kyi, after meeting her during a visit to Myanmar in May as a representative of the Norwegian government.

Acknowledging that Myanmar had a long way to go, Mr Eide said Norway hoped that the government and all concerned parties were included in the political process, including the National League for Democracy.

“The wind of opportunity we have now seen in this country is promising and we are working closely with Asian countries, the United States, the European Union and United Nations on how we can help,” Mr Eide said.

He congratulated the Myanmar government for relaxing media censorship and highlighted the role of a free media in the moves towards democracy.

Daw Aung San Su Kyi said the two sides discussed the political changes in the Myanmar.

“Although different countries have different practices and a different approach, they all come with the same goals,” she said.

At an informal meeting with journalists before meeting Daw Aung San Su Kyi, Mr Eide said it was important for the government to release significant numbers of prisoners and said he hoped for good news on that issue in coming days.

The removal of European Union sanctions would come step by step in line with progress taken by Myanmar.

“Economic sanctions are on the table and should be discussed (after the release of the prisoners),” he said.

“Sanctions are not constructive,” said Mr Eide, adding that he looked forward to the day when they are removed.

He said that while sanctions would not be removed simultaneously, “we need to start the process of removing them.”

Mr Eide urged the government to facilitate the re-registration of the National League for Democracy so it may participate in the political process.

He also said the government and ethnic groups needed to work together for the sake of peace.

In Nay Pyi Taw on October 7, Mr Eide held talks with the Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw, Thura U Shwe Mann, about cooperation between the parliaments of the two countries and political progress in Myanmar.

He also held talks in Nay Pyi Taw the same day with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, U Wunna Maung Lwin, and discussed the relationship between the two countries.

Source: Myanmar Times