Myanmar: EU and Germany see positive signals amid Rohingya crisis | News | DW | 20.11.2017
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Myanmar: EU and Germany see positive signals amid Rohingya crisis

Germany's foreign minister has said he believes Myanmar will make a deal to repatriate 600,000 Rohingya refugees who fled Rakhine state. Many in Myanmar see Rohingya as illegal immigrants responsible for terrorism.

The European Union urged Myanmar's government on Monday to allow full humanitarian access and end violence in Myanmar's restive Rakhine state where over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh.

European and Asian foreign ministers are gathered in Myanmar's capital Nayidaw to take part in the biennial Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

Following talks with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, the EU's top diplomat Federica Mogherini told reporters that Europe urged "stopping the violence, the flow of refugees and guaranteeing full humanitarian access to Rakhine state."

Mogherini said her talks with Suu Kyi were "extremely encouraging."

Watch video 01:42

FM Sigmar Gabriel visits Rohingya camp

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel shared her optimism following his own meeting with Suu Kyi, saying he is confident that Myanmar and Bangladesh will be able to reach a repatriation agreement.

"They want to do everything so that refugees can return," said Gabriel. "Of course, it's a question of how secure the region is then and what life prospects can be opened there."

Read moreRohingya crisis demonstrates consequences of statelessness

Watch video 01:26

Children refugee numbers mount as result of Rohingya crisis

Suu Kyi: 'Illegal immigration' to blame for conflict

In her opening remarks at the two-day ASEM meeting, Suu Kyi said that the world is facing conflict and instability in part due to terrorism that is spread by illegal immigration.

Suu Kyi cited "illegal immigration's spread of terrorism and violent extremism, social disharmony and even the threat of nuclear war" as reasons why the world is in a new period of instability.

Read moreMyanmar's Rohingya: A history of forced exoduses

She did directly mention the exodus of minority Rohingya Muslims from her country in her speech, but the remarks highlighted the beliefs of many in Myanmar who view the Rohingya as illegal immigrants and blame them for terrorist attacks.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been internationally criticized for her response to Myanmar's military crackdown on the Rohingya, with security forces accused of rape, killings, arson and torture.

The United Nations has labeled the crackdown "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" while the army has denied any wrongdoing.

China's three-phase solution

During the 53-member ASEM meeting, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed a three-phase solution to the Rohingya crisis, starting with a ceasefire in Rakhine state.

"The first phase is to achieve a ceasefire on the ground and restore stability and order so the people can enjoy peace and stop fleeing," he said.

Myanmar and Bangladesh should negotiate a repatriation agreement in the second phase. It remains unclear, however, whether a safe return to Rakhine state was possible after their villages were destroyed.

Read moreFormer Secretary General Kofi Annan urges UN to push for Rohingya return to Myanmar

The third stage would then "face the root of the problem and explore ways to solve it," Wang said, adding that Beijing believes the root of the conflict is poverty.

This year's ASEM meeting will also focus on countering terrorism and violent extremism, non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction as well as strengthening cyber security.

rs/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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