Citing “historic changes,” the European Union on Monday announced it would suspend nearly all sanctions on Burma for a year. The new policy, which goes into effect this week, will ease trade, economic and personal restrictions, but it leaves in place an arms embargo, reports the Associated Press. It will also open the door to increased development aid. E.U. officials said the move was a reward for the country’s recent steps toward reform, including the release of many political prisoners, cease-fires with ethnic rebels and the April 1 by-elections that saw democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi win a seat in parliament. “The E.U. praises the peaceful nature of the process and the readiness of the parties to work toward the same goals,” the organization said in a statement released from Luxembourg. But in Burma today, talk of unity felt premature.
The E.U.’s decision comes as the military-backed ruling party and Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) are locked in a high-stakes political showdown.