News / Asia

EU Commissioner Optimistic about Burma Reforms

Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid
Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid

The top European Union aid official says Burma’s government is pledging increased international access for humanitarian workers during natural disasters. E.U. officials say they are optimistic about reforms by Burma's new government.

European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Humanitarian aid Kristalina Georgieva says she is "encouraged" by Burma's pledges to give humanitarian workers greater access to troubled areas.

Georgieva spoke to journalists in Bangkok following a two-day official visit to Burma.  She said she was “very positive” that it is possible to avoid the chaos and destruction that had come in the wake of cyclone Nargis in 2008.

“My impression from discussions with the minister for resettlement and social welfare who is also the chair of the disaster preparedness ministerial group, is that there is a recognition of the need to be on high alert; that experience form other countries is very valuable," said Georgieva. "In this sense Nargis was a wake-up call.”

Cyclone Nargis left more than 140,000 dead and missing after hitting the Irrawaddy Delta region.  The then-military government faced international condemnation over delays to assistance that aid groups says cost thousands of lives.

In addition to meeting government officials in Rangoon, the E.U. minister met with Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Georgieva said Suu Kyi was positive over her new role in the country since her release from house arrest in November last year.  Suu Kyi had spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest.

Georgieva and E.U. officials expressed optimism of signs of reform, with Burmese government members “genuinely” seeking change. But challenges remain, she said.

“We know that there are now agents for change.  There are people who are genuinely reform minded they want to see the country included.  But we also know that there are many who don’t want this to happen that divested interests that are going to be affected by change.  So therefore how this power struggle would go will be to watch in the months to come,” Georgieva stated.

Georgieva, while not commenting directly on Burma's holding of more than 2,000 political prisoners, said the International Committee of the Red Cross was again granted limited access to three of Burma’s prisons.  The ICRC’s access to prisons and camps had come to a halt amid increasing official restrictions in 2006.

E.U. officials also said Burma's government pledged to pursue peaceful ends to conflicts with ethnic minorities and their insurgent armies, offering talks within months.

In April, the European Union eased some sanctions in place due to Burma's human-rights record to enable the current dialogue.  

The European Union now allows ministerial visits to Burma and modified visa restrictions that open the way for civilian members of Burma’s parliament to travel to Europe.

The visit by Georgieva comes as Derek Mitchell, the U.S. Special representative and policy coordinator for Burma is currently meeting officials in Naypyittaw, political party members and local civil society organizations.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs