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How Does the Past Shape the Present? The EU Policy towards Myanmar in Inter-Regional Context

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The EU is active in Southeast Asia to enhance its profile as a major ASEAN partner. But in order to be perceived as a full-fledged partner, the EU has to convince ASEAN countries of its changing style and tone. This is a difficult endeavour since the ‘Burmese experience’ has produced much unease and a lasting irritation on the ASEAN side.After 20 years of sanctions escalation and clumsy declarations on Burma/Myanmar, the EU diplomacy has produced mixed results: on the one hand, it has enhanced its credentials as a global promoter of democracy and human rights, but on the other hand, it has done so in such a controversial way that its credibility and influence have been challenged. Vis-à-vis both ASEAN and Myanmar, it has produced widespread doubt on the EU capacity to become an actor of political influence in Southeast Asia, a doubt that is often underestimated by European circles.The recent evolution, both from regional and inter-regional angles, offers the EU a window of opportunity for new policy orientations as a path to regain legitimacy in Southeast Asia.

Affiliations: 1: Asia Centre (Paris) and Grip (Brussels)


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