On 11-13 September 2013, Burmese political activist and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi paid a visit to Poland. During her stay in Warsaw, she met with Sejm Marshal Ewa Kopacz and former President Lech Wałęsa, who had invited her to our country. The Burmese politician was also received by Poland’s Prime Minister and by President Bronisław Komorowski.
The visit by the Burmese opposition activist follows up on the two countries’ cooperation in sharing experiences on democracy building and political transformation. Poland’s model of systemic reform has met with much interest due to many historical parallels between our country’s situation prior to 1989 and in the early stages of political change, and the current situation in Myanmar. Consequently, the development offer for Myanmar focuses on democratization process and civil society building. Between 2011 and 2013, a number of initiatives were launched to support the country’s transition, many of which present Polish transformation and civic democracy experiences and discuss the role of the media and public opinion in a democratic state. MFA projects include a study visit for eight pro-democracy activists affiliated with the National League for Democracy (NLD) (December 2011), media workshops for journalists (May 2012, in cooperation with the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies), and the Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise (SENSE). The latter training features a computer simulation of a market economy and was organized in cooperation with the National School of Public Administration for 49 Myanmar representatives in Poland in September 2012.
The Solidarity Fund PL also implemented measures addressed to Myanmar. Using grants awarded in 2012 and 2013, Polish NGOs carried out seven projects in the fields of education, journalism and civil society building.
Besides campaigns focusing on democratization and political transformation, Poland’s development assistance for Myanmar was also implemented by the Polish Embassy in Bangkok. As part of the small grants system, the diplomatic post put in place projects aimed at raising living standards of the local population. The projects mainly concerned socially excluded persons (wheelchair purchases) and improvement of healthcare standards (delivery of an ambulance with resuscitation equipment). Between 2007 and 2009, five initiatives were addressed to refugees from Myanmar/Burma living in camps in Thailand.
In 2007-2013, a total of 21 projects were granted worth close to PLN 2.4 million from the Polish Aid.
In addition, the MFA allocated PLN 1.5 million to humanitarian measures carried out in Myanmar (Burma) by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).