The eurozone crisis will not be much lessened by the likelihood that the Slovak parliament will now reverse its veto of the euro-bailout plans. The expansion of the European Financial Stability Facility is now likely to go ahead. But the point was well made by Slovak opponents that the deal means poorer eurozone countries bailing out richer ones. As for the argument that it might be preferable for Greece to leave the euro, that is now being voiced far beyond Bratislava.
As matters stand, the bailout fund still needs to be bolstered. And the deal reached in July, the subject of the Slovak vote, has already been overtaken by events. Greek investors will have to take an even bigger haircut on discounting the value of their bonds; as for the bailout facility, it will have to be far bigger. There will be more debates like this one before long.
London Evening Standard (Oct. 12)
Myanmar on cusp of change
Burma or Myanmar as it is known these days is like another planet for much of the international community. What goes on in there is of little interest to the self-appointed movers and shakers of our world. For all practical purposes, Myanmar fell off the world map. The Western powers, ever eager to intervene in countries in the Middle East, have done little more than pay lip service to the long suffering people of the Southeast Asian nation. Maybe because Myanmar doesn’t have oil — at least not enough to invite Western interest.
Myanmar’s Asian neighbors haven’t fared any better. The regional grouping, ASEAN, has scrupulously avoided any references to “internal matters” of the member state for fear of ruffling the junta. Myanmar’s giant neighbors China and India, enjoying robust economic ties and massive clout with Rangoon, too have failed to persuade the generals to mend their ways. The world looked the other way as Myanmar people have lived through a nightmare over the past many decades, especially the last two that saw the incarceration of Aung San Suu Kyi and thousands of her followers.
Today, Suu Kyi is free and her people appear to be on the cusp of a historic change. Myanmar’s rulers have announced amnesty to more than 6,000 prisoners. It’s not clear how many of those would be political prisoners though. Nevertheless, this is a welcome sign and fits in with the pattern of dramatic developments in Rangoon over the past few months. Change seems to have come at last to the impoverished nation sitting on rich natural resources. For which the credit goes to no one but the people of Myanmar. It’s the perseverance and epic sacrifices of the Myanmar people and their charismatic leadership.
Doubtless, these are welcome changes. However, Myanmar has a long way to go before it could claim to be a country that represents and reflects the aspirations of its people. Cosmetic window-dressing will not bring respite to Myanmar, only real change will.
Arab News, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Oct. 12)