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Reuters-FOCUS-Myanmar seen, not hea

Subject: Reuters-FOCUS-Myanmar seen, not heard as EU-ASEAN ink pact 

FOCUS-Myanmar seen, not heard as EU-ASEAN ink pact
09:06 a.m. May 26, 1999 Eastern
By David Brunnstrom

BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - The European Union and Association of South East
Asian Nations on Wednesday adopted a broad programme for future cooperation
stalled for two years by military-ruled Myanmar's human rights record.

The ``New Dynamic in EU-ASEAN Relations'' was approved by the blocs' Joint
Cooperation Committee (JCC) after a four-day meeting in which the delegation
from Myanmar, their country accorded pariah status by EU sanctions, was seen
but not heard.

The wide-ranging programme covers trade, economic and industrial cooperation
as well as initiatives on drugs and the environment. Trade clauses include
cooperation over intellectual property rights and liberalisation of
bloc-to-bloc tariffs.

``The meeting is considered a complete success, which should set the tone
for ASEAN-EU cooperation in future,'' chief Thai delegate Anucha Osathanond
told a news conference.

Europe's senior delegate, Emiliano Fossati, earlier told the meeting that
Asia's economic crisis called for EU help to revitalise Asian economies and
to support adjustment and recovery.

The plan should have been adopted two years ago, but the JCC meeting was
twice postponed after Myanmar's entry into ASEAN in 1997 and the grouping's
requirement that all its members attend.

``We have lost time, but what we have been able to achieve is good,''
Fossati said of the Bangkok meeting.

The EU has imposed sanctions on Myanmar because of its poor human rights
record and this week's meeting only came about after a compromise was
reached allowing Yangon to attend in silence.

``He was very disciplined,'' EU ambassador to Thailand Michel Caillouet said
of Myanmar's chief delegate Aye Lwin.

EU sanctions, which bar senior Myanmar officials from entering Europe,
forced the cancellation of a meeting of foreign ministers of the two blocs
earlier this year.

There will be ministerial contact later this year at the end of the ASEAN
summit at which the European Union will be represented by a diplomatic

But it remains to be seen if Myanmar will be able to attend the next JCC
meeting due to be held in Brussels next year.

``We don't know yet,'' Fossati said. ``If you follow a certain logic it
might be invited on the same conditions. But this has not yet been decided
by political leaders of the European Union.''

``If the situation improves in Myanmar, things will change.'' At the moment
though, the EU did not see ``sufficient improvement'' in Myanmar's human
right situation.

``We have a found a compromise for this meeting and we have decided this is
an ad hoc solution. Personally I think a technical meeting would be easier
to arrange than a more politically sensitive meeting.''

Such was the case for two sub-committees established by the JCC to deal with
narcotics and the environment.

Fossati suggested Myanmar's attendence at the next JCC might be made
possible by the definition of a senior official.

``This question has to be considered. The titles of officials in government
agencies is not the same -- the general director in one country may be
called a secretary-general in another one.''

EU sanctions stem from Myanmar's treatment of its pro-democracy opposition
led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Her party won a 1990 election by a
landslide, but the military ignored the result and detained many of its