France rejects calls for Total to leave Myanmar

5th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 4 (AFP) - France on Tuesday called accusations from human rights groups that it was protecting the French oil company Total's activitivies in Myanmar "unfair and baseless" and insisted it was observing EU sanctions on the military junta ruling that Asian country.

PARIS, July 4 (AFP) - France on Tuesday called accusations from human rights groups that it was protecting the French oil company Total's activitivies in Myanmar "unfair and baseless" and insisted it was observing EU sanctions on the military junta ruling that Asian country.

Paris is "especially preoccupied by the situation in Myanmar" and believes that only a genuine national reconciliation between the junta, its opposition and ethnic minorities can provide a solution to its international ostracism, foreign ministry spokeswoman Cecile Pozzo di Borgo told journalists.

She noted that the European Union decided in April to renew for a year sanctions against the Myanmar regime and said that "France is strictly and forcefully applying these sanctions."

The sharp comments were in reaction to a statement from an association of human rights groups Monday which alleged that the EU sanctions were ineffective and that France was partly responsible.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the League of Human Rights, France Libertes and Info Burma complained that Myanmar's oil, wood, construction and gas sectors that are most valuable to the regime were unaffected by the international restrictions.

They singled out Total as profiting from Myanmar's oil sector and contributing to the junta's coffers, and called for the French company to withdraw from the country.

"To remain in Burma (Myanmar) is to be complicit in the ongoing human rights violations that are taking place in the country," the FIDH said in a statement.

A spokesman for Total said Monday that the sanctions against Myanmar "penalised" local populations and expressed the opinion that the French government's approach to the junta was in line with French diplomatic tradition.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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