EU official sees no chance of formal Myanmar aid talks
21 April 2009, 12:59 CET
(MANILA) – The European Union sees no chance of formal talks with Myanmar on aid for development projects until the junta brings about democratic reforms, the head of the bloc’s aid office said Tuesday.
Koos Richelle said European countries had been trying to engage the regime but it has been intent to “seclude itself from the rest of the world.”
“It is not us punishing them, it’s them not opening up for what we consider to be normal contact,” he said at the close of a two-day conference in Manila between Asian and European aid officials.
Myanmar was devastated by a cyclone one year ago which left 138,000 people dead or missing.
Despite a huge international relief effort, the secretive junta stalled on issuing visas to foreign aid workers and prevented some humanitarian supplies from entering the country, drawing worldwide condemnation.
“We are not a money machine throwing envelopes over the fence,” Richelle — the director general of the European Comission’s EuropeAid Coooperation Office — told reporters.
“We want to contribute to the quality of life in a country, and if we have the impression that it is not possible, then there is no possibility for us to cooperate.”
He said the European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-member EU, appreciates “situations where there is democracy, where there is full-pledged policy dialogue.”
The European Commission has already given tens of millions of euros in aid for the cyclone victims as part of humanitarian support, separate to specific projects such as for infrastructure.
The European Union’s senior Myanmar envoy said recently it was considering easing sanctions on the junta if it relaxes curbs on the political opposition ahead of elections planned for 2010.