Friendly ties with Laos
Germany has amicable relations with Laos, the country in South-East Asia that is this year’s ASEM Summit host. It is supporting the country’s cautious attempts to open up its economy and expand international links. During his stay in Laos Foreign Minister Westerwelle also met his opposite number, Thongloun Sisoulith. He visited a centre that cares for people who have been injured by mines and cluster munitions and saw at first hand how Germany is helping to preserve the country’s cultural heritage.
Assistance in demining and support for victims
Westerwelle talking to a mine victim at the COPE Centre
Laos still has a major problem with landmines and cluster munitions, a legacy of the Indo-China wars. On the margins of the ASEM Summit Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited COPE, a documentation and rehabilitation centre that cares for people who have been injured by mines and unexploded ordnance. The Federal Foreign Office is funding a number of projects designed to eliminate the threat from these treacherous weapons. Since 1996 some 13 million euros have been made available for this purpose.
A teenager reported to the Minister how a dud had exploded on his way home in his village, depriving him of both hands as well as his sight. During his visit Westerwelle presented the COPE centre with additional German aid in the form of equipment for the manufacture of orthopaedic prostheses. The country could continue to develop and thrive only if “the land was totally cleared of buried cluster munitions,” Westerwelle noted.
German support for preserving the Lao cultural heritage
Westerwelle and a conservation expert in Vat Sisaket
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Germany is also helping Laos to preserve its cultural heritage. Vat Sisaket, for example, the Lao capital’s oldest monastery, is in serious danger. Its valuable wall paintings have been severely damaged by the tropical climate. A team of German conservation experts have been studying how they can best be preserved. During Westerwelle’s visit to Vat Sisaket the team briefed the Minister on the results of their study and the various options for conserving and restoring the historic site. Over the past years Germany has provided 1.9 million euros in funding for cultural heritage projects in Laos.
Last updated 06.11.2012