Brussels (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The European Union (EU) proposes to reduce contacts with Burmese military hierarchies, in response to the counter-offensive in Rakhine, which has forced more than 500,000 Rohingya muslims to flee the country, reports Reuters. It cites the draft of a document that should be made public by the European Foreign Ministers on October 16, at the end of the talks about the crisis in Myanmar.
The USA and Eu have been considering targeted sanctions against Burmese military leaders, although the European bloc considers its options quite limited, due to lack of influence and direct leverage on the ground. According to Reuters, the joint declaration draft confirms the support of the 28 member states of the Union to the already-prepared Brussels embargo on arms and equipment “that can be used for internal repression”.
The document reiterates the call to the Burmese government to repatriate refugees who fled to neighboring Bangladesh, and expresses appreciation for Dhaka’s role in addressing the humanitarian crisis. The situation in Rakhine is described as “extremely serious” and, for the first time since the beginning of the latest conflict, European diplomacy expresses “great concern” also for the situation of ethnic minorities Kachin and Shan, with a strong Christian presence.
Analysts say that with this declaration Brussels recognizes the little influence that Burmese Democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi can exercise on the powerful Burmese army. The move to punish military leaders would be symbolic, as the West does not intend to harm the economy of the country or destabilize the already tense relations between the Lady and the generals.