Myanmar has experienced a profound transformation over the past months, and President Thein Sein’s recent 10-day visit to Europe should be regarded as a historic challenge for Europe and the rest of the global community.
As he visits the various European capitals and the European Union during the trip, his contacts will hopefully include more than just an aid package, but also a longer-term commitment to understanding and nurturing a country through a difficult transition toward a normal state.
The EU and other Western donors should probably now turn to an agenda and support for peace-building and nation-building. This should be done individually and in concert with other donors and interested parties in the region, as well as the international community. Short-term emergency measures and longer-term strategic imperatives will have to be met.
It is unlikely that here are any convenient, ready-made, off-the-shelf solutions for the challenges facing the country. Knowledge, empathy and patience will be required by not only the international community, but by the decision-makers in Myanmar itself.