Former Norwegian PM calls for coordinated action on Burma

Oct 21, 2007 (DVB), Kjell Magne Bondevik, former prime minister of Norway and founder of the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights, has said that the international community is "split" over Burma and called for stronger and more coordinated international pressure on the regime.

Speaking in an interview with DVB, Mr Bondevik welcomed the presidential statement from the United Nations Security Council on Burma, but said he was not satisfied with the international response so far.

He highlighted the divisions between western and Asian countries in their approach to Burma, with western countries imposing sanctions while Asian countries opt for "constructive engagement" with the regime.

"[T]his split has of course made it easier for the military junta to survive. So what I really now want to encourage the main international players to do is to coordinate their efforts, mainly through the UN," he said.

Mr Bondevik said that China has a particular responsibility to influence the Burmese government.

In view of this, the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights has organised an appeal in which 21 former presidents and prime ministers have signed a letter to the president of China calling for and end to violence against peaceful demonstrators, the release of all political prisoners and genuine dialogue with the democratic movement and ethnic minorities.

The Chinese president has not yet responded to the letter.

Mr Bondevik also discussed ways the international community can support democratic reform. Advocating a "stick and carrot" approach, Mr Bondevik said that political and diplomatic pressure, including targeted sanctions, should be balanced with incentives for democratic reform.

"[We must] promise them that if they take concrete steps, irreversible steps towards democracy then we can engage with them, [and] have economic cooperation with them," he said.

The full text of the interview is available at http://english.dvb.no/interview.php.

Reporting by DVB

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