Prague, Czech Republic – Myanmar’s state councilor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi kicked off a one-week visit to Central Europe on Sunday.
Aung San Suu Kyi pays official visit to Czech Republic
Aung San Suu Kyi, de-facto leader of Myanmar, has embarked on a Central European tour. She landed in Prague yesterday to pay an official visit at the invitation of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, from June 2-4.
Talks between the two leaders are due to focus on boosting bilateral relations, including in matters of trade and investment. In 2015, Czech Republic and Myanmar signed in Nay Pyi Taw, the Burmese capital, an agreement on trade and economic cooperation to strengthen relations between both countries.
According to the Czech statistical office, bilateral trade between Myanmar and the Czech Republic amounted to 73 million euros in 2018.
During her stay in Prague, Aung San Suu Kyi is also due to meet with Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček and President Milos Zeman as well as representatives from Parliament. On Tuesday, she’ll talk during a bilateral Czech-Myanmar economic forum gathering business leaders from the two countries.
The latest high-ranking bilateral visit dates back to February 2016, when then-Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomir Zaoralek paid an official visit to Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Kyi in Budapest from June 5-6
Myanmar’s state counselor will then head to Hungary for a working visit on June 5-6, according to a ministry statement.
Aung San Suu Kyi had previously visited both Hungary and the Czech Republic in September 2013, then as opposition leader. In Prague, she had attended the Forum 2000 Conference, closely tied to the legacy of former anti-communist dissident and Czech President Vaclav Havel. Although Suu Kyi and Havel never met in real life and only spoke once on the phone in 2010, their long-distance and mutually inspirational friendship had a lasting impact on their respective lives and political struggles.
Vaclav Havel was also instrumental in awarding her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, bringing the world’s attention to the situation in Burma. “Had he allowed his name to be put forward as a candidate that year, I am convinced he would have been the chosen laureate”, Suu Kyi commented some years later.
A human rights icon sullied by the Rohingya crisis
A long-time freedom icon and pro-democracy activist who rose to worldwide fame for her decades-long opposition to Myanmar’s military regime and dictatorship, she faced strong criticism in recent years for her failure to address the persecution of Rohingya people, Myanmar’s Muslim community, described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The United Nations has called for several top military commanders of Myanmar’s army, which still wields immense influence and controls large parts of the government and state institutions, to be charged with genocide crimes.
The Rohingya crisis, one of the worst humanitarian crisis in recent years that forced more than 700.000 Burmese Muslims to flee the country, including to neighbouring Bangladesh, tarnished Aung San Suu Kyi’s international prestige. Activists have called for her Nobel Prize to be revoked over her silence and failure to condemn Myanmar military’s act of violence and crimes.