A delegation of MEPs met Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time on 29 February as part of an EP visit to establish formal interparliamentary relations with the country. German Christian-Democrat Werner Langen, head of the EP delegation, praised Ms Suu Kyi for her decades-long fight for democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Speaking about upcoming elections, he said: "We hope that the opposition party she leads will have great success."
Ms Suu Kyi spent most of the time between 1989 and 2010 under house arrest and was awarded the Sakharov Prize in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Recently Myanmar authorities have taken steps to restore political pluralism to the country after years of authoritarian military rule, which included releasing Ms Suu Kyi from her house arrest in November 2010. She and her party are running in by-elections to be held on 1 April.
Ms. Suu Kyi appeared cautiously optimistic about developments in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma. She said after the meeting with MEPs: "I think the president [of the country] was perfectly sincere when he said that he wanted to bring true democracy to Burma." However, she added that EU sanctions against the country should not be lifted before the elections. "We must not forget that in 1990 we had elections that were considered free and fair by the world but then we found out that the results of the elections did not mean any change for Burma at all."