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Utvalda anföranden

Anförande vid ASEAN:s toppmöte

November 22, 2007

Anförande i Singapore

 

Today we find ourselves the guests of the Government of Singapore for this Commemorative Summit celebrating 30 years of EU-ASEAN cooperation, while ASEAN celebrates 40 years of development and cooperation.

 

Development, integration and political and economic cooperation are all around us, democracy and human rights are increasingly respected all over the European continent and inAsia.

 

How unfortunate that this is still not the case for all of us here today.

 

At the meeting we had in Hamburg earlier this year there was a rather sharp exchange between EU Ministers and the representative of Burma/Myanmar who sought to assure us that everything was going well in his country.

 

Well, in case we did not know it then we certainly know it now - the country is in a desperate economic and humanitarian situation, and its rulers seems only to be able to remain in power by the use of brute military force and heavy repression.

 

The events of September made us all witnesses to the tragedy of Burma/Myanmar. We see the desperation also of the Buddhist monks coming out of the temples, and we saw people ready to risk their lives in fighting for change in their country.

 

The ASEAN Chair was certainly right in its very clear statement at the time that this situation affected not only Myanmar/Burma, but also the reputation and credibility of the entire region and of ASEAN itself.

 

On the flight coming here I read that Mr Wen Jiabao - Prime Minister of the PRC - had noted in a speech here in Singapore that "only an open and inclusive nation can be strong and prosperous while a nation that shuts its door to the world is bound to fall behind."

 

While I am certainly not seeing China as a model in political terms, I would certainly agree with his words, and I would urge the leaders of Burma/Myanmarto consider them careful.

 

In our modern world, no regime built on isolation can succeed over time. Problems will mount, and at some point in time the dams will inevitably break.

 

We all - neighbors or more distant friends - have an interest in the stability of Burma/Myanmar as much as we have an interest in the respect for human rights and the economic well-being of peoples. All of this is why we consider it so important to now try to facilitate a dialogue that should lead to a change for the better in Burma/Myanmar.

 

We - the European Union and ASEAN - have a joint responsibility to maintain the momentum in the process that will now have to be launched using the good offices of the UN Secretary General and of his Special Advisor Mr. Gambari.

 

The European Union stands firmly behind Mr. Gambari's mission. The discussions we had as late as Monday of this week in Brussels, including the important appointment of our Special Envoy Mr Fassino to act as a focal point for our efforts, are intended to support and be complementary to the efforts of Mr. Gambari.

 

But we must clearly recognize that - despite some positive news coinciding with Mr. Gambari's last visit - developments in Burma are still discouraging.

 

We have still to see serious evidence of a commitment by the regime to true dialogue, national reconciliation and political change.

 

As long as this is the case, the European Union will call for continued international efforts to maintain - and if necessary increase - pressure on the regime to implement necessary steps for an inclusive political process in Burma.

 

Our discussions here in Singapore are important in this respect.

 

We salute that ASEAN has now adopted its own charter - a landmark in its development; including also important provisions on human rights- but we must also recognize that the credibility of this entire process is at stake if there is not the ability to move the situation inBurma/Myanmarin the right direction.

 

In the absence of progress in the political process, the EU has favored targeted measures towards the Burmese regime and others responsible for or profiting from the present situation.

 

If necessary, the EU stands ready to increase such pressure - through further sanctions, including a ban on new investments.

 

And we will obviously seek to engage also other countries in a dialogue on these issues. The subject of Burma/Myanmar will be on the agenda of the upcoming summits between the European Union and China as well as India towards the end of this month.

 

They have obvious responsibilities - and they should have an obvious interest in a Burma/Myanmar that does not slide even further into isolation, repression, economic despair and eventual and unavoidable serious instability.

 

At the same time as we continue to press these policies, we are sensitive to the humanitarian needs of the people of Burma and willing to do what's possible to alleviate their hardship.

 

And it should also be clearly that as determined as we are to do whatever we can to increase pressure on the regime as long as it is not truly engaging with the process advocated by Mr. Gambari - as ready are we to open for cooperation, trade and aid if there is a genuine process of national reconciliation, reform and opening up to the outside world in Burma/Myanmar.

 

In this as well, we are eager to develop our dialogue with you in ASEAN.

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