By THE IRRAWADDY
The European Union (EU) renewed economic sanctions on Burma for one more year during a foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
The EU said it would continue to work to establish an open dialogue with Burma’s ruling generals in Naypyidaw, the capital. It also called for the junta to conduct a “genuine dialogue” with opposition and ethnic groups.
“The EU remains open to dialogue and cooperation in response to progress by the Burmese authorities and its willingness to meet Burma/Myanmar authorities at ministerial level in the margins of the ASEM (Asia-Europe meeting) Foreign ministers meeting in Hanoi in May 2009,” it said in a statement.
The council said that its goals in Burma are a peaceful transition to a legitimate civilian system of government and improvement in Burmese social and economic conditions.
It called for the ruling junta to hold a 2010 Burmese election within “a credible, transparent and inclusive process, based on international standards.” The EU council again called for the release of all political prisoners including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The council welcomed the adoption of a resolution by the UN Human Rights Council that urged the regime to work with the UN human rights rapporteur to grant fundamental human rights in Burma, including ethnic groups such as the Rohingya minority.
It also welcomed the extension of the mandate of the Tripartite Core Group to coordinate post-Cyclone Nargis relief efforts.
The EU foreign ministers reviewed recent political developments, including Burma’s lack of progress in meeting the international community’s calls for political change and to engage with the UN in its efforts toward national reconciliation.
Since 1996, the EU has held a common position on Burma. Following the junta’s crackdown on demonstrators in September 2007, it put into place further sanctions that include a travel ban on top political officials, an arms embargo and a freezing of the assets in Europe of Burmese officials and their business partners.