[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

'EU was right to postpone Asean tal

(South China Morning Post) 15 November 1997.

A top European Union official said yesterday it was "a pity" that the EU
had to postpone a meeting with Asean because of a disagreement over Burma
- but it was the right decision.

"We were hoping to strengthen the relationship," said Anita Gradin, the
European Commissioner for Immigration, Justice and Home Affairs, who is
visiting Thailand and Laos.

On Wednesday, the EU postponed a meeting with the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations in Bangkok next week because Asean demanded that
Burma - admitted to the grouping in July - be accorded full observer

European and other Western countries urged Asean not to admit Burma on
human rights grounds and because its military regime was suppressing the
democracy movement led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The EU was willing to let Burma attend as a passive observer, but Asean
was adamant the nation be allowed to sit at the negotiating table.

"Why doesn't [Asean] show they realise there are problems in the region
that have to do with Burma?" Ms Gradin, who is Swedish, said.

(The Straits Time) 15 November 1997
Asean-EU meeting postponed indefinitely 


By Edward Tang
Thailand Correspondent 

BANGKOK -- A meeting between senior officials of Asean and the European
Union (EU) here next week has been postponed indefinitely because of
discord over Myanmar's participation, a Thai official said yesterday.
Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Thinakorn Kanasuta said the 13th
Asean-EU Joint Cooperation Council meeting, scheduled to take place in
Bangkok from Nov 17-19, had been called off without any firm plans to
reconvene soon. 

The reason, he said, was that the two groupings could not agree on
Myanmar's participation at the meeting. 

"It is Asean's view that the EU should not discriminate against Myanmar's
participation in the JCC. When Vietnam became an Asean member two years
ago, it participated in the JCC in Brussels as an observer. 

"Therefore, Myanmar should be allowed to take part in the Bangkok meeting
on the same basis," he said. 

Earlier yesterday, ministry spokesman Surapong Jayanama had told Reuters:
"It takes two to tango", referring to the hitch hampering better ties
between Asean and the EU. 

He said Thailand had conveyed a message on Asean's behalf to the EU,
stating there should be no discrimination against any of its members. 

Myanmar and Laos joined Asean in July. The EU, which has suspended all
high-level contacts with Myanmar in protest against its military
government for suppression of human rights and opposition politicians,
had objected to the observer status the country would receive at the

A report from Brussels, the EU's capital, on Wednesday said that EU
officials had "come round to the idea that Myanmar would attend the
meeting, but only informally and in a 'passive capacity' ". 

The EU told Bangkok on Wednesday of its decision to postpone the meeting.

Myanmar is governed by the State Law and Order Restoration Council, which
has been criticised for human rights abuses. 

Reacting to the EU's decision in Manila, Philippine foreign
under-secretary and incoming Asean secretary-general Rodolfo Severino
said: "That's up to them... Our decision is to go through with the

"We feel that nobody should discriminate between Asean countries when it
comes to dealing with Asean as a whole. The position that the EU seems to
be taking... seems to be very highly political in nature so we just have
to take a stand on it."