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Aung San Suu Kyi Shocked by German

Subject: Aung San Suu Kyi Shocked by German business plans

(from: BCNN (Gijs Hillenius))
original: Pressemitteilung (pressrelease) Deutsche Welle English Service

contact at Deutsche Welle: 
Hugh Williamson, 
tel (+49)221 389 45 90/1/4 
fax (+49)221 389 45 55


Suu Kyi in an interview with DW-radio calls for Deutsche Telekom, ADB, 
Dresdner Bank to cancel investments

Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has attacked a plan by several 
leading German companies to open an investment office in the Burmese capital 
Rangoon. "We're not in favour of investments in Burma at this particular 
moment because money that gets into the country does not get to the people 
that need it most" Suu Kyi told Deutsche Welle English service in a 
telephone inteview on Wednesday, 8th January (1997) from Rangoon. New 
investments "would only enrich an already very rich elite" the Nobel peace 
prize winner said.

Eight German companies are jointly funding the office, which will be 
officially opened when a delegation of 15 German business people visit Burma 
later in January. Telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom, engineering firm ABB 
Mannheim, Dresdner bank and Berliner Bank are among those involved.

News of the German initiative comes despite tension in Burma after recent 
student protest, and contrasts sharply with grwoing  calls for business to 
boycott the country due to human rights concerns. The European Commission in 
December 1996 urged European Finance ministers to suspend Burma's trade 
priviliges on the grounds that the military regime sanctions the use of 
forced labour. The EU has also banned European visits by Burmese officials.

Suu Kyi said "if I could persuade them to cancel their plans, I would do 
so", referring to the GErman companies. "Perhaps the German public should 
persuade them not ot go ahead."

The plan to open the representative office, on January 30th, is being 
co-ordinated by the Hamburg-based German Asia-Pacific Business Association. 
Regional manager Wolfgang Niedermark told Deutsche Welle the office will 
provide "information of ervey kind" to bring German companies "into contact 
with potential Burmese partners". Niedermark said he was aware of political 
tension in Burma and international concern over Human Rights, but said "we 
are really business oriented and we don not have any political ambitions."

Suu Kyi condemned this attitude, especially because it came from Germans. 
"With Germany's history and experience I think it's shocking that any German 
should say that we're only interested in economics,we have nothing to do 
with politics. The fact that Germany was involved in the second world war 
was due to political errors not economic errors."

But Niedermark argued that foreign investment could bring change in Burma. 
"We would liek to stay in contact with people in such countires where we 
think (the) human rights record is not as we wish". Economic contacts are 
better than isolation or investment boycotts, he said.

The office will cost "several hundred thousand Deutschmarks" to run its 
first year, with one german and svereal local staff, Niedermark said. The 
other companies involved are ENV, a Berlin-based environment management 
group; a transport company Müller & partner from Cologne; the Fulda-based 
textile company Ispert and a Hamburg trading company.  More companies may 
join the funding group later, Neidermark said.

German trade and invetsment ties with Burma lag behind those of other Asian 
and European countries. German-Burmese trade totalled around $50 million in 
1994. Siemens, clothing multinational Triumph and several tourist companies 
are aming the few German cpmnaies with offices or joint ventures in Burma

Cologne, 8th january 1997

(Amsterdam, 8th of january 1997) 
BCN is onafhankelijke stichting. Doel: Nederlandse samenleving informeren 
over Burma. Het initieert en co-ordineert aktiviteiten die democratisering 
en duurzame ontwikkeling bevorderen. Het geeft een positieve bijdrage aan 
een constructieve dialoog tussen de diverse groeperingen.

Paulus Potterstraat 20
(31)20-6716952 (tel)
(31)20-6713513 (fax)


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