EU to open office in Myanmar
BANGKOK THE European Union has decided to open a representative office in Yangon, Myanmar, as a step towards further engagement with the once-pariah state, EU officials confirmed on Friday.
“This will be a representative office, not a full-fledged mission,” said Seth van Doorn, information officer at the EU’s South-East Asian office in Bangkok.
The Yangon office will be under the supervision of the Bangkok office, taking responsibility for the mission’s various Myanmarrelated cooperation programmes, he said.
“It’s a way of being more engaged in Myanmar,” Doorn said.
Myanmar held its first general election in 20 years on November 7, 2010, ushering into power a new government under President Thein Sein, a former army general.Since coming to office on March 30, Thein Sein has initiated several policy changes, opening a dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, paving the way for her National League for Democracy opposition party to contest by-elections on April 1 and freeing an estimated 347 political prisoners.
Another 600 to 1,000 political prisoners remain behind bars.The glimmers of democratisation have sparked a flurry of high-level diplomatic visits to Myanmar over the past six months as Western democracies reassess their relations with the country.
Myanmar has been diplomatically and economically isolated for its human rights abuses, including a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in 1988 and subsequent acts of suppression under the junta that ruled the country until the 2010 election.
The new government, consisting mainly of former military men, has come under international pressure to follow through on its positive gestures of reform.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Thein Sein on Thursday.