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France to use EU presidency to pres

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
1 June, 2000

France to use EU presidency to pressure Burma to democratize - Vedrine

Source: France 2 TV, Paris, in French 1300 gmt 30 May 00

Excerpts from live relay from Questions to the Government session
at the French National Assembly; broadcast by France 2 TV on 30th May

[Speaker] We now have a question from the Socialist group. Mr Pierre Brana:

[Brana] Mr Speaker, colleagues: my question is for the foreign minister
[Hubert Vedrine]... Will France - which is soon to take over the presidency
of the European Union - propose an initiative to its partners
which will make the Burmese generals understand the urgent need
for democratisation?

[Speaker] ... I call on the minister to speak:

[Vedrine] Mr Speaker, my honourable friend... The situation [in Burma]
fills with indignation all Europeans, all those in the west, and to different
degrees - and we need to work on this - the Asian
countries, and in particular Burma's neighbours... We [France]
are going use the [EU] presidency both to persevere along this path,
perhaps take some initiatives - we are talking about this right now with our
partners, in particular the two or three countries which are the most
concerned, the most active as regards the situation in Burma. And we
shall use the dialogue between the EU and the ASEAN countries -
which we have just restarted after it was frozen because of disagreement
over how to deal with the Burmese crisis - to convince all the other
countries whose situations are totally different from that of Burma to join
us in applying pressure. We shall also speak about this during the ASEM
[Asia-Europe Meeting], which involves the whole of Asia. And we hope
that this combined pressure will finally give the Burmese democrats -
and especially Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi - the legitimacy which
they deserve, in other words, being in power to lead that country.