France has always considered Burma to be an important country in South East Asia. Ever since the 1990 elections, France has continued, in common with its European partners, to call for the resumption of a political process that might lead, through dialogue, to national reconciliation and the establishment of democracy. With this end in view, France strongly supported the pro-democracy campaign led by Aung San Suu Kyi. France regretted that the elections of 7 November 2010 were neither free nor multi-party. Hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including Aung San Suu Kyi herself, were still being held in detention at the time of the elections, and the rights of the opposition were not respected.
France’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Alain Juppé visited Burma from 14 to 16 January 2012. This historic visit – the first visit to Burma by a French Foreign Affairs Minister, and the first ministerial visit since 1988 – was made possible by the process of political reforms undertaken since summer 2011. The Minister encouraged Burmese President Thein Sein and the Burmese authorities to continue and develop this initiative, by taking concrete measures in favour of national reconciliation, human rights and the rights of minorities and the transition towards democracy.
In the course of the visit, Mr. Juppé, acting on behalf of the French President, took the opportunity to present Aung San Suu Kyi with the insignia of Commander of the Légion d’Honneur. The visit also gave renewed impetus to cooperation ties between France and Burma. Mr. Juppé announced a tripling of bilateral French aid to Burma, targeting in particular humanitarian and emergency aid, development aid, support for NGOs and Burmese civil society and the development of cultural relations. On 22 March 2012, the French Development Agency (AFD) was given the authorisation to operate in the country for a period of four years (under a "post-crisis country" mandate).
At the invitation of the French President, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Burmese MP and leader of the National League for Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi paid a visit to France from 26 to 29 June 2012. During her visit, the last stop on her first tour of Europe in almost 25 years, France paid tribute to the campaign led by this remarkable woman for the cause of human rights, and emphasised its active support for the process of democratic transition under way in Burma.
France and its partners ensure that the United Nations is kept informed of the human rights situation in Burma. Every year, France supports resolutions on Burma proposed by the European Union to the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council. In addition, France fully supports the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma appointed by the Human Rights Council, Tomas Ojea Quintana.
The French Embassy in Myanmar website:www.ambafrance-mm.org
Updated on 01.01.13