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Close-up: EU rewards Myanmar's road to reform

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Close-up: EU rewards Myanmar's road to reform
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The lifting of EU sanctions against Myanmar on Monday marks yet another step towards normalising diplomatic ties between Burmese authorities and the West. But, European officials remain cautious, stressing the one year suspension could be re-imposed at any time. The relationship between pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the ruling elite will surely be key.

At the same time EU foreign ministers were meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, the opposition in Myanmar boycotted the Burmese parliament because of a row over the oath of office for MPs.

Despite that, EU leaders approved the sanctions suspension.

“I will be there next weekend in order to deliver the message from this Council and also to open the European Union office that we have there. We are watching carefully developments today with the Parliament, of course, but our objective is to try and help support the progress that has been made, so it becomes irreversible,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

The EU has said an arms embargo on Myanmar will remain. In addition, the bloc has called for the unconditional release of all the country’s political prisoners.

But officials say the suspension of sanctions, which was also pushed for by Suu Kyi, is in recognition of the recent historic changes that have taken place in the once pariah state.

To get more insight on what this means for Myanmar’s political and economic relations with Europe and the West euronews’ Isabel Isabel Marques da Silva spoke to Shada Islam from the Brussels based think-tank, Friends of Europe.

To see the full Close-up report click on the link above.