01/31/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR - EU
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From Burma, harsh criticism of the EU policy on Myanmar

A long editorial from the news agency Mizzima accuses the official Fassino of carrying out a "megaphone diplomacy" composed of nothing but press conferences and rhetoric, and says the only result has been to make the junta more unyielding. The EU and the UN are now the only organisations that still believe they can have success with the generals. Aung San Suu Kyi warns: talks with the junta can lead only to false hope.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - The "megaphone diplomacy" conducted by the EU official for Myanmar, Piero Fassino, conceals only "his need to create an image of genuine engagement", aimed at "justifying his role as the EU representative".  This is the harsh criticism contained in the long editorial published yesterday by Mizzima News, an agency with ties to the Burmese opposition.  The article expresses the frustration of the population and of local experts, who are tired of hearing nothing but words and seeing nothing but press conferences voicing good intentions at the end of the various missions of the UN and the EU in the area. Both of these international organisms have always viewed as a somewhat positive development the junta's cooperation in opening talks following the repression of the demonstrations by Buddhist monks last year.  But all of the initiatives promised by the generals have been nothing but a facade, nothing but window dressing. 

Aung San Suu Kyi herself, the leader of the democratic opposition, has expressed her distrust in this regard, and has urged people to "hope for the best and prepare for the worst".  This was related by her fellow party members, the National League for Democracy (NLD), after the generals yesterday permitted her to speak with them.  The spokesman of the NLD, Nyan Win, said that Suu Kyi is concerned that the 90 minutes of talks conducted yesterday will give rise only to "false hope". Aung Kyi, the labour minister and the junta's official for relations with the democratic representatives, has met with Suu Kyi four times since last September. Suu Kyi has highlighted the necessity of including in the talks the representatives of the various ethnic groups that have been fighting for autonomy for decades.  But she has said she has been frustrated by the lack of discussion with the junta on the crucial question of political reforms.

In recent days, Fassino has gone on a new Asian tour to obtain the collaboration of the regional governments for a solution of the Burmese crisis.  Last January 29, he met with the outgoing Thai foreign minister, Nitya Pibulsonggram. And in the press conference following this, he repeated that if the junta does  not cooperate, the European Union will consider heavier sanctions.  It therefore seems that the European Union is the only one still hoping that the policy of "carrots and sticks" (sanctions and humanitarian aid) will work with the generals, Mizzima News comments.  The agency charges that the EU "lacks a coherent strategy, and the awareness that over the past 20 years all of the international attempts to bring changes to Myanmar have failed".  The editorialist, Larry Jagan, cites a former high official of the Burmese intelligence service, major general  Kyaw Win, who used to say, "The international community must understand that we hate megaphone diplomacy, and that this will not persuade us to do anything".

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