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French President Pledges Support for Burma's Democracy

  • VOA News

Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Gare du Nord train station, Paris, June 26, 2012.

Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at Gare du Nord train station, Paris, June 26, 2012.

French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday assured visiting Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi that France will do everything possible to support Burma's democratic transition.

"We support all the efforts that could be taken for the success of this transition," said President Hollande. "And France must be at the service of democracy. Everything that can be done to support or to at times put pressure, will be done. The president of Myanmar [Burma] was presented by Madame Aung San Suu Kyi as a sincere man in the [democratic] movement that he committed to. If he wants to achieve it, he will.''

Burma's democratic leader arrived in Paris Tuesday on the final leg of her European tour. At a joint press conference with Mr. Hollande, Aung San Suu Kyi said her country needs investment to revive its economy, but she said growth should not come at the expense of democratic reforms.

"We need the kind of help that will empower the people, empower the people by developing their skills as well as by creating opportunities for them," said Aung San Suu Kyi. "We say that Burma has come to the beginning of a new road. But this new road has to be walked by new players as well. If the same old people are going to take this new road, then we can say that this process of reform in Burma is not going the way that it should. We want Burma to be a more inclusive society, where power is shared between all stake holders - that is to say, all those who are interested in bringing about political, social and economic reform in Burma."

The 67-year-old Nobel laureate told reporters that it is important to make Burma's military understand that democracy is for the good of everyone in the country, not only one segment of society.

Aung San Suu Kyi expressed confidence that Burma's President Thein Sein is sincere about supporting the country's democratic transition, but she said she could not speak for everyone in the Burmese government.

While in France, Aung San Suu Kyi also met with the heads of the National Assembly and the Senate, France's foreign minister, and the mayor of Paris.

Her two-week tour of Europe has also included stops in Britain, Switzerland, Ireland and Norway.

In Norway, she received the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize that was denied her while under house arrest in Burma.

During her stop in Britain, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed Parliament and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, where she studied and lived with her family for years before returning to Burma in 1988.

A civilian government came to power in Burma last year, after the country's 2010 elections - Burma's first in 20 years. Aung San Suu Kyi was released from a house arrest shortly after the vote. She spent almost 15 years in some form of detention under the military government, which refused to step down when her party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide election victory in 1991.

The opposition leader and Burma's democracy icon, was elected to parliament this year.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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