June 23, 2011

Burma Briefing No. 13

Commentary on an article published on 20th June 2011 in the Financial Times by Markus Loening, Germany’s federal commissioner for human rights policy.

It is rare for a German government official to make a detailed statement on their thinking on Burma policy, and the article is more revealing than perhaps was intended.

Loening’s arguments expose a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation in Burma, the history of EU policy, of the Burmese economy, and of the dictatorship itself. This misunderstanding is shared by his government and several other EU members.

The article is entirely slanted towards the German agenda of relaxing pressure on the dictatorship, and increasing trade. This is not a new policy, but in the past Germany has denied that it has pushed to relax sanctions, hiding behind the confidentiality of internal EU meetings.

This article by the German human rights commissioner appears to be a new push by Germany to weaken EU policy on Burma, relax pressure on the dictatorship, and increase German business interests in Burma.

Burma Briefing No. 13 Commentary on an article published on 20th June 2011 in the Financial Times by Markus Loening, Germany’s federal commissioner for human rights policy. It is rare for a German government official to make a detailed statement on their thinking on Burma policy, and the article is more revealing than perhaps was intended. Loening’s arguments expose a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation in Burma, the history of EU policy, of the Burmese economy, and of the dictatorship itself. This misunderstanding is shared by his government and several other EU members. The article is entirely slanted towards the German agenda of relaxing pressure on the dictatorship, and increasing trade. This is not a new policy, but in the past Germany has denied that it has pushed to relax sanctions, hiding behind the confidentiality of internal EU meetings. This article by the German human rights commissioner appears to be a new push by Germany to weaken EU policy on Burma, relax pressure on the dictatorship, and increase German business interests in Burma.

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