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(29 January 2014) - Croatia and Myanmar are thousands of miles away, but as far as the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is concerned, they are much closer than it seems at first sight. That is exactly why the Ministry is trying to provide development aid to that distant country, through development projects which they carry out not only with NGOs, but also through declared support for the amending the Constitution.’

‘For us, it’s an interesting country with which we can share our knowledge and experiences,’ said Assistant Minister Vesna Batistic Kos. She pointed out that Croatia has so far carried out two development projects there, one regarding the strengthening of the system for prevention of the spreading of HIV/AIDS and the other, ‘Women’s Leadership for Peace’, which is being carried out together with the local organisation Educational Initiatives and an NGO.

Documenta, a Croatian NGO dealing with the research into the consequences of the war, is included in the latter project. Its leader, Vesna Terselic, said she spent 10 days in Rangoon last year and learned a lot about the serious human rights violations committed in one of the longest civil wars in the world.

‘The expert team from MFEA, during its visit to Burma, also detected areas of potential mutual cooperation and aid, including in areas linked to sustainable tourism, especially rural ones, which could help local population. In addition, they are thinking about providing psychosocial assistance to former political prisoners and their reintegration into the society – using the role model of Croatian war veterans.’

‘But, above all that, Croatia is providing support for the constitutional changes in Myanmar, especially when it comes to amending the current provision which, in practice, effectively prevents the candidacy of the opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace prize laureate.’

‘There is still a question as to which direction the country would take,’ Batistic Kos said. ‘But it’s important that the 2015 elections be credible and the constitutional changes are crucial for achieving that goal.’

Natali Lulić Grozdanoski
Voditeljica Službe za međunarodnu razvojnu suradnju i humanitarnu pomoć/
Head od Division of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance
Directorate for Multilateral Affairs and Global Issues
Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia
Tel. +385 (01) 4561 235
Fax. +385 (01) 4597 416