Myanmar is edging its way towards being a modern democracy with a series of reforms after having been under military control since the 1960s. President Thein Sein and foreign minister U Wunna Maung Lwin are in Parliament today to discuss the latest developments. We talked to Werner Langen, who led a parliamentary delegation to Myanmar last year, about the progress the country - formerly known as Burma - has made since then.
In recent years Myanmar has made efforts to consolidate democracy and one measure was to release opposition politician and 1990 Sakharov prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in November 2010. She and her party later won 43 out 45 seats that were up for election in 2012. The EU and the US eased their sanctions in response to the reforms.
Werner Langen, a German member of the EPP group, led a delegation of 11 MEPs to Myanmar in February 2012 where they also met Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr Langen is cautiously optimistic about how Myanmar has been developing. "I am very glad that the president of Myanmar accepted the invitation to visit Parliament and I am convinced he is sincere about wanting to change the country. It is clear that it will take at least 10 years before things are as they should be, but Myanmar is on the right track."
Mr Langen highlighted the role other countries in the region were playing. "It is also receiving a lot of support from neighbouring countries, which is allowing it to open up further and develop its economy. It is telling that next year it will be chairing ASEAN."
Parliament has always been keen to promote human rights in Myanmar and other countries. Mr Langen said: "We will have to keep an eye on the human rights situation to ensure that it improves. There are still a lot of issues with minorities in the country."
Myanmar's foreign minister U Wunna Maung Lwin will discuss developments with members of the foreign affairs and development committees today from 15.30 CET. Watch it live on our website by clicking on the link on the right.