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 Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid