“It is time to lift the sanctions. Recent developments in Myanmar show that the authorities are serious about the reform policy, and this should be encouraged. What Myanmar needs now is contact with the outside world, economic development and international aid,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
“At the same time it is a message to those opposing the reforms that the sanctions can be reintroduced, although in reality we are now suspending them,” said Mr Støre.
Foreign Minister Støre spoke with Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi today.
“She agrees that lifting the sanctions will strengthen the position of the reform forces in the country, but urges the international community to follow the situation closely, and we intend to do so,” said Foreign Minister Støre.
The Norwegian sanctions were implemented in the Regulations relating to special measures against Burma. The ban on arms exports and military cooperation will be maintained.
Myanmar now has a need for aid in many areas.
“Norway has been engaged in humanitarian activities in Myanmar for many years, for example through Norwegian aid agencies. We will continue to build on these contacts and make use of the confidence and experience we have gained,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås.
Myanmar has taken a number of important steps towards reform and democratisation in the past year and a half. Aung San Suu Kyi won a seat in the lower house of Parliament in the by-elections on 1 April, and her party, the NLD, won 95% of the seats that were up for election. Most of the political prisoners have been released, laws that also have a bearing on the human rights situation are being amended, ceasefire agreements have been concluded with 11 of the country’s ethnic minority groups, and there is greater freedom of expressions and freedom of the press.
“However, there is still a lot to be done, and we will continue to call on the authorities to do more, particularly in the human rights field. But we are ready to assist, not least by supporting the ceasefire agreements, economic planning and capacity building,” said Mr Støre.
It is important that the international community also supports the progress that is being made.
“We urge the UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to intensify cooperation with Myanmar. I am pleased that the US now seems to be more in agreement with us on this point. People must have faith that their lives will improve,” said Mr Holmås.