EU Lifts Travel Ban on Burmese Officials

January 23, 2012 Updated: February 28, 2012

The European Union on Monday has lifted travel bans on top Burmese politicians, including President Thein Sein in a move that acknowledges the country’s recent moves toward opening up.

The European Council, in a statement, said it “welcomes the remarkable program of political reform undertaken by” the leaders of the Southeast Asian country that for decades, was government by a repressive military junta. 

It wasn’t after elections in November 2010 that the Burma (renamed Myanmar by the junta) transferred power from the military to a civilian government.

“These changes are opening up important new prospects for developing the relationship between the European Union and Burma/Myanmar,” the statement reads.

Burma’s government has allowed the opposition—in particular the National League for Democracy headed by Aung San Suu Kyi—to officially register for upcoming by-elections. It has also made reconciliation efforts with armed ethnic groups, and has released dozens of political prisoners.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate who was detained by Burma’s government for a total of about 15 years, will run for a vacant seat in Parliament in April.

“The EU attaches particular importance to the free and fair conduct of these elections,” the statement said.