EU hails Suu Kyi and Myanmar president's 'courageous' reform
(BRUSSELS) - The EU hailed Saturday a pledge by Aung San Suu Kyi to keep up her Nobel prize-winning struggle for democracy, while dangling all sorts of new possibilities for Myanmar if it reforms further.
As she finally delivered her acceptance speech in Oslo, 21 years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest, the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, hailed her "extraordinary achievements" that "gave hope to millions."
"Unthinkable only a few years ago," Barroso said her vision had given birth to "a country that is opening up to the world and embarking on a journey towards more democracy and more development."
In a powerful signal to a country with a bigger population than Britain and which many European Union states see as a resource-rich trading partner for decades to come, Barroso said a transition in Myanmar was being "courageously led by President U Thein Sein."
"We hope that reforms will continue and deepen as the country's challenges in what regards national reconciliation are still important," underlined Barroso, a former Portuguese prime minister.
After a year that has seen sweeping changes in her Southeast Asian homeland, Suu Kyi pledged in Oslo to work for national reconciliation but also pointed to remaining political prisoners and ongoing ethnic strife in her country.
Offering giant praise on this "special day", Barroso added of the change wrung out of such sacrifice in Myanmar by the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner: "I salute the fantastic transition her country has embarked upon.
"The European Union will continue to support her and will assist her country on the journey to its place in the family of nations."
Although the Myanmar government has signed ceasefires with ethnic rebels, Suu Kyi also pointed to continued bloodshed -- conflict with the northern Kachin Independence Army and communal unrest between Buddhists and a Muslim minority.
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