Apr 18, 2012

EU to lift sanctions against Myanmar

European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced on Tuesday that the bloc would like to lift sanctions aganist Myanmar.

In her speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Ashton hailed the recent democratic transition process in the country as a historic change.

"In January, we suspended the visa bans on the Government of Myanmar. At the end of this month, we will do more," She said.

According to Ashton, the decisions were expected to be taken by the EU Foreign Affairs Council on next Monday in Luxemburg.

"We need to go further and build a partnership with Myanmar," she said, "I will travel to Myanmar at the end of the month. I have invited the Myanmar Foreign Minister to Brussels. The European parliament made a successful visit in February."

Ashton said the EU would enter into an active collaboration with Myanmar, to assist the reform process and to contribute to economic, political and social development.

"We will also strengthen capacity in the public administration at central and regional level," Ashton said, adding "In particular, I want to work to secure peace and stability for ethnic regions and to open a long-term perspective for their development."

"Removing sanctions and increasing aid is not enough," she stressed, "We all recognise the vital contribution the private sector has to make. We will encourage European companies to look for opportunities in Myanmar and also to bring the highest standards of corporate social responsibility with them."

According to Ashton, in a longer perspective, the EU hopes to re-instate the Generalized System of Preferences for Myanmar, following the assessment of the International Labour Organisation.

"I believe I speak for all of us when I say that the EU looks forward to collaborating constructively with the Government, the opposition and indeed the entire people of Myanmar to reinforce their unity and prosperity," she said.

Source: Xinhua