Monday, 18 November 2019

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EC president pledges to support Burma’s peace process


The president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, said the EU has provided 700,000 Euros in set-up costs for the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC), and said the EU will follow that up with “a sizable package later this year,” as part of a plan to contribute some 30 million Euros to Burma’s peace process over the following year.

Barroso made the announcement as he signed a joint declaration on Saturday, November 3, with Aung Min, representing the Burmese President’s Office, at the MPC office in Rangoon.

The MPC, established by Presidential Decree, is intended to serve as a platform for dialogue “between all those concerned by Myanmar's ethnic peace processes.”

Referring to the agreement as a “truly momentous occasion,” the EC president said that the establishment of the MPC is a “key step towards ethnic reconciliation and lasting peace in Myanmar.”
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He said the EU will support the Burmese government and all ethnic stakeholders “on the challenging road that lies ahead.”

The Burmese government’s chief peace negotiator, Aung Min, also made a statement. “A new chapter in Myanmar's history is opening up,” he said. “Creating the MPC expresses the desire of President U Thein Sein for inclusive and enduring peace, and of its will to work with all stakeholders.

“To date, we have concluded initial ceasefires with 10 out of 11 ethnic armed groups,” Aung Min continued. “The President has stated clearly in his speech at the UNGA [UN General Assembly] that this is not enough. Genuine peace shall satisfy political aspirations and address grievances of ethnic communities in Myanmar. This can only happen with a non-partisan platform for comprehensive dialogue. We are happy to work with the European Union—laureate of this year's Peace Nobel Prize.”

The only ethnic group still fighting the Burmese army—to which Aung Min referred—is the Kachin Independence Army.

Barroso also used the occasion to call for an end to the sectarian violence in Burma’s Rakhine State, and urged religious leaders in the region to call for restraint.

“We are deeply concerned by these events and by the consequences for the reforms and democratization of the country,” Barroso said in a statement released by Brussels.

“The EU stands ready to mobilize 4 million Euros for immediate humanitarian needs, provided access to the affected areas is guaranteed,” Barroso added.



 

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