The European Union’s involvement in Burma will face two key tests in the next month: the conclusion of the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement on Thursday, and, provided it is not postponed, what is being touted as the first “free and fair” general election in 25 years.
Since the EU began reengaging with Burma in 2011, most of its work in the fledgling democracy has been through the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC). The MPC, launched as a part of an agreement with the Norway-led Peace Support Donor Group in 2012, aims to provide strategic guidance in peace negotiations and to serve as a hub for governments and non-governmental organizations that want to support Burma’s glacial peace process. According to a monitoring report by Burma News International, the EU contributed nearly US$1 million in startup funds to the MPC in 2012, followed by a generous funding package later that same year. The EU provided some $38 million to the peace process in 2013.
Yet financial support is not a panacea. With 135 officially recognized ethnic groups sprawled across the country, Burma’s situation is exceptional. Beneath this mosaic is a simmering history of conflict not only between the Burman majority and ethnic minorities, but also among minority groups. Since Aung San was assassinated in 1947, ethnic conflicts, punctuated only by fragile periods of peace, have flared across the country with an almost seasonal regularity.
Full story: The Irrawaddy
Myanmar/Burma political news and updates.
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