Suu Kyi to start Europe tour in Switzerland
Aung San Suu Kyi has just begun travelling abroad again after years of house arrest (Keystone)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi will begin her first journey to Europe for 24 years in Switzerland. She will attend the International Labour Conference session in Geneva as well as visiting the Swiss parliament in Bern.
During her visit from June 13 to 15, Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader will meet and talk to young people and will be guest of honour at a dinner hosted by the Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the Swiss foreign ministry announced on Friday.
In addition, she will have talks with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter. “The political situation in Myanmar, which is currently undergoing a process of opening up, will be the focus of the talks,” a foreign ministry statement said.
The visit to parliament will take place on June 15. Suu Kyi is scheduled to be in Norway the following day where she will formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded 21 years ago. She also plans to visit Dublin and London.
Suu Kyi spent 15 out of 22 years under house arrest imposed by the former military regime, during which time she occasionally spoke to the outside world through audio and video messages.
She was granted freedom after Myanmar held elections in 2010 and was elected to parliament in April.
Speaking in Bankok on Friday, Suu Kyi urged the international community to exercise "healthy scepticism" towards her country's reforms as it sheds a half-century of military rule.
Switzerland also announced it will open an embassy in Myanmar in the next few months and increase its development aid to about SFr25 million ($25.8 million) over the next four years.
"The establishment of a diplomatic representation in Myanmar not only recognises the democratic progress made to date and encourages further progress but is also motivated by solid interests," the foreign ministry said.
The government notably acknowledges the country's great economic potential and its appeal as a tourist destination.
As part of strengthening development cooperation with Myanmar, Switzerland plans to launch programme on agriculture and food security, as well as on vocational training and mine clearing.