Burma’s debt to Germany has been halved in a deal presided over by German President Joachim Gauck and his Burmese counterpart Thein Sein in Naypyidaw on Monday. It was agreed that the remaining debt will stand at 542 million euros (US$740 million) and will be repaid at a rate of 3 percent interest over the next 15 years.
Thein Sein thanked Germany for its continued support for Burma over 60 years of continuous bilateral relations. Gauck stated that Burma could continue to rely on Germany as long as their path to democracy was maintained.
The German President did raise concerns with Thein Sein over Burma’s democratic transition — noting that the legal status of the stateless Rohingya was worrying. The need for the Burmese government to build on ceasefire agreements towards a more lasting peace was also raised.
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi described Gauck’s visit as “encouraging”, as the German President — known for his anti-totalitarian activity in the former East Germany — had “lived for many years under a dictatorship”.
Gauck moved on Monday night to Rangoon, where he will address Rangoon University on Tuesday and officially open the Burma chapter of the German cultural association Goethe-Intistut.