Supporting lasting peace in Myanmar
On Saturday 3 November, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and the Minister of the Office of the President of Myanmar, HE Mr U Aung Min, signed a Joint Declaration at the Myanmar Peace Centre in Yangon.
The Myanmar Peace Centre, established by Presidential Decree, shall serve as a platform for dialogue between all those concerned for Myanmar's ethnic peace processes.
President Barroso said: "Today is a truly momentous occasion. The establishment of the Myanmar Peace Centre is a key step towards ethnic reconciliation and lasting peace in Myanmar. I applaud the initiative of President U Thein Sein and his team, led by Minister U Aung Min. The EU will support the Government and all ethnic stakeholders on the challenging road that lies ahead".
He underlined the EU's role in providing €700 000 funds which helped to start the centre. This sum will be followed by a sizable package later this year which will also benefit ethnic communities. In total EU will provide €150 million in development assistance to Myanmar in 2012-2013, out of which €100 million will be committed still this year. €30 million from these funds are devoted to support activities in ethnic areas.
In his speech at the centre, President Barroso said: "Visiting this Peace Centre now and after my meetings with President U Thein Sein, with Speaker Thura Shwe Mann and with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi earlier today, I can say that peace and reconciliation are within reach in Myanmar."
He encouraged Myanmar's leadership to continue to nurture and strengthen democracy in the country, listening to the needs of the entire population, and to continue releasing the remaining political detainees as "no one should be held in prison for expressing his or her views."
The President also recalled that the EU stands ready to mobilise €4 million for immediate humanitarian needs, provided that access to the affected areas is guaranteed.
The EU closely follows and strongly supports the peaceful transition in Myanmar. It reacted very quickly to the country's departure from authoritarian rule, suspended some restrictive measures and provided development aid to the country. The High Representative / Vice-President Catherine Ashton opened an EU office in Myanmar on 28 April, and President Barroso subsequently met with Speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament of Myanmar Thura Shwe Mann on May 11.