Rohingya refugee crisis: EU waits for Myanmar's response
12:00 AM, October 19, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:48 AM, October 19, 2017

EU waits for Myanmar's response

Tough measures if Myanmar fails to respect commitments

The European Union has said it wants to see Myanmar's response to the international community's appeal to resolve the Rohingya crisis before taking any tough measures like imposing economic embargo against the country.

"We have to first see what and how Myanmar is going to respond before using all these avenues. Let's first see how they reply and in due course other measures can be taken," EU Ambassador in Dhaka Rensje Teerink said in talks with diplomatic correspondents yesterday.

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Economic embargo is the toughest measure the EU can take, she added.

The EU has not seen any goodwill gesture from the Myanmar side so far; to really come forward and respect its commitments. One of the commitments was to work with Bangladesh to take back its nationals from here, said the newly appointed ambassador and head of delegation of the EU to Bangladesh, who presented her credentials to the president on Tuesday.

She was interacting with diplomatic correspondents in Lakeshore Hotel in a programme styled “DCABtalk” with the EU Ambassador and organised by Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh. It was her first interaction with the press in Bangladesh.

The EU and its member states on Oct 16 decided to suspend invitations to the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces and other senior military officers, and review all practical defence cooperation.

"It's a symbolic measure but I think it's an important one and a significant message to Myanmar," Teerink said.

The EU confirmed the relevance of the current EU restrictive measures -- an embargo on arms and equipment that can be used for internal repression. The decision was conveyed on Monday against the backdrop of disproportionate use of force by security forces in Myanmar against the Rohingya population.

In reply to a question, the EU ambassador said the role of China and Russia was very important in finding a solution to the crisis, but economic interest apparently made the “solution difficult”.

Teerink, who has been discharging her diplomatic assignment in South Asian region since 2006 in different capacities, said Myanmar was an important part of a larger belt and road initiative that China was now devising, which might be a reason why many countries were not so outspoken even when they were watching ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses.

The EU envoy emphasized the importance of taking China, Russia and India on board in finding a solution, which, she said, was a very difficult part of the equation.

The European Council may consider “additional measures” if the situation does not improve, but also stands ready to respond accordingly to positive developments.

The EU also intends to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming ASEM Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on November 20-21 to engage in a constructive dialogue with the government, and to continue to liaise with all Asian partners in this regard.

"This is a very important meeting and we look forward to it to convince Myanmar to do the right thing," Teerink said.

On the next parliamentary election in Bangladesh, she said the EU was interested in sending an election observation mission ahead of the polls. The mission will be deployed once Bangladesh sends an invitation to that end.

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides will arrive here on October 30 to see the Rohingya situation on the ground, the EU ambassador said.

DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and General Secretary Pantho Rahman also spoke on the occasion. Konstantinos Vardakis, minister-counsellor of the EU Embassy in Dhaka, was also present.

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