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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Shared Problems, Shared Possibilities

Sunday, November 25, 2007

At the EU ASEAN (Association of South Eastern Asian Nations) summit held in Singapore, Meg gave the following speech.

 

I’d like to start by thanking the Singaporean Government for hosting this summit and to congratulate ASEAN on its 40th anniversary. The UK Government welcomes the signing of the charter.

 

The EU ASEAN summit is an important opportunity to discuss a range of issues and shared concerns such as trade and climate change.

 

Climate change is a shared problem faced by both south east Asia and Europe. We are already feeling the effects of a changing climate and these effects will only become more frequent and severe without global action.

 

It is critical that the response reflects the scale and urgency that the scientific and economic evidence demands. Implementation of a comprehensive post-2012 agreement will need to be underpinned by developed country leadership towards a long term stabilisation target.

 

Indonesia is President of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change this year. It is an important opportunity to drive the agenda and to demonstrate global leadership. I welcome the personal commitment and authority that President Yudhuyono has given to this issue in advance of the conference in Bali.

 

I welcome the examples set by other south east Asian nations as well, particularly Singapore in making climate change and sustainable energy the focus of the ASEAN summit and Malaysia for hosting a recent regional conference on climate change.

 

The EU Spring Council made a historic decision to press ahead with building a low carbon economy in Europe, through an ambitious and far reaching package of measures and agreed that the shift to a low carbon economy is a driver of competitiveness, not a threat.

 

I also welcome the Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment which was signed at the East Asia Summit yesterday. This sends a clear message to the conference in Bali next month.

 

Moving on to talk about the situation in Burma.

 

As ASEAN endorses its charter and celebrates its 40th anniversary the international community has been watching and judging how it responds to the current situation in Burma.

 

The eyes of the world are on Burma. ASEAN has already spoken out. The statement of the 27th September expressing revulsion at the events unfolding in Rangoon was an unequivocal message to both the military authorities and those pressing for change. It is heartening to see that our many friends and partners in the Association share the deep concerns of my government and people over the tragic developments in that country.

 

For our part the UK Government remains deeply concerned by the situation in Burma. The events of the last few weeks have demonstrated to us all that the people have had enough of dictatorship, economic mismanagement and deepening poverty. All agree that there can be no return to the situation before the latest crackdown.

 

It is important therefore that we remain united to support the efforts of the UN to bring about political change and national reconciliation.

 

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has called for a “meaningful and time-bound dialogue”. Her constructive offer provides the right framework for both the international community and the regime to find a genuine solution to the country’s problems.

 

It is not yet clear the Burmese authorities are willing to act in similar good faith. The Burmese regime has taken small steps that now need to be followed up by larger steps. But arrests continue; many of those who could help to rebuild the country are in prison or exile; and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remains under tight restrictions.

 

The UK welcomes the commitment in the ASEAN-EU joint declaration for both organisations to help address the humanitarian needs of the people of Burma. We look forward to hearing more about ASEAN’s plans on this.

 

The UK currently spends $18m a year to meet humanitarian needs in Burma. This will rise to $36m by 2010.

 

It is not in the interests of Burma’s neighbours to have an unstable country on its borders. It must surely be in all our interests that Burma moves to a more democratic situation. It is right that this matter should be of concern to the world it is a global concern and not a purely domestic matter.

 

During my stay in Singapore I have met Burmese people. They told me they only want the rights for the people of Burma which the rest of our citizens take for granted.

 

There have been previous false dawns. This time must be different. A clear message must be sent to the Burmese regime that there is a need for a genuine and fundamental transformation of the country. The UK will continue to raise our concerns and press for change. I hope all countries here will do so too.


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