Extracts from the Council and the EC statements on the tragic situation in Myanmar, plenary session of the EP
End production: 21/05/2008 First transmission: 21/05/2008
On 21 May 2008, the House debated the situation in Myanmar. More than 34,000 people were killed in a devastating cyclone that hit western Myanmar on 3 May. EU Ministers for Development met on 13 May in an extraordinary General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting in order to assess the state of play regarding the humanitarian situation in Myanmar after the devastation caused by the cyclone Nargis, and review the response of the EU Member States and the European Commission. The Ministers stressed that the scope of the tragedy could increase without the co-operation of the authorities in Myanmar. They welcomed some limited improvement that has been made recently in this respect, but stressed that more needs to be done to ensure a free access to the affected area to the international humanitarian experts, including the expeditious delivery of visa and travel permits. They recalled that the EU humanitarian aid is entirely neutral, impartial and independent, in accordance with the EU consensus on humanitarian aid. The Ministers also welcomed the initiative of Louis Michel, Member of the EC in charge of Development and Humanitarian Aid, to travel to Myanmar for purely humanitarian purposes.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Flags outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg
||Janez Lenarčič, Slovenian State Secretary for European Affairs and President in office of the Council (in SLOVENIAN) saying that the EU has already made an appeal to ASEAN to the effect that ASEAN could bring pressure upon the authorities of Myanmar and also that it would open doors to humanitarian aid, because there are restriction placed on free movement of volunteers and cooperation workers;
saying that their fear is that the national disaster will cast a shadow over the preparation of the new constitution; there are also reports on threats and intimidation taking place in the run up to the referendum; the EU is disappointed that Myanmar's authorities did not accept office of assistance for them to be a more credible transition to democracy
||Louis Michel, Member of the EC in charge of Development and Humanitarian Aid, (in FRENCH) saying that despite the situation is dramatic indeed, the initial catastrophe of the cyclone is followed by further risks of epidemics given the disastrous living conditions; the World Health Organisation wasn't talking about the risk of cholera, but it says that enormous numbers of children are suffering from diharrea and malnutrition, problems in terms of accessibility of water resources;
saying that planting should go on to ensure harvesting in October so that they have a 3 or 4 weeks window of opportunity; but they have seen massive displacements of individuals and some of these individuals don't wish to return to their land for a variety of different reasons; some others do but need to have access to seed; and given variety of seed because the cultivated land has been contaminated through the presence of salt and so there need to be given variety of seed so they need to bring fertilizer
||Hartmut Nassauer, Member of the EP, (in GERMAN) saying that it is obvious that ASEAN is co responsible for one of its Member States, Myanmar; and that of course ASEAN should show a great deal of Humanity in dealing with the situation; but they are loosing faith with the rest of the world, in carrying on ignoring what is going on in Myanmar; he would call on the ASEAN States in the name of the good relations they have with the EP, to do their utmost to make sure that the Burmese military Junta be convinced that they have to be allowed to help their population
||Jan Marinus Wiersma, Member of the EP, (in DUTCH) saying that the previous week there was a donors conference organised, where an appeal was launched to Europe to contribute to assistance; but this can only happen if there is a guarantee that the assistance Europe provides will actually reach the people it is meant to reach; so that they can actually have a picture of what is happening in the country
||Jules Maaten, Member of the EP, (in DUTCH) saying that the refusal to provide this aid is a crime against Humanity and he would hope that the EU takes its responsibility, takes the initiative to move this on to the International Criminal Court in The Hague; they are at the end of patience, they have to bring the Junta to the International Criminal Court, because they are the responsible ones for the disastrous situation, not the geographical distance
||Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Member of the EP, (in FRENCH) saying that the Junta in Myanmar is as if they were deaf right now; they went ahead with their referendum immediately after the disaster, that is just a mockery; so, diplomatic pressure should be at the highest possible level and the EU has to ensure that the Security Council and the International Criminal Court in The Hague take measures
||Cutaways (4 shots)