Dr. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi made honourary citizen in Paris
Thursday, June 28, 2012 » 08:10am
Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi has become an honourary citizen of Paris at a ceremony in the French capital.
The 67-year-old met French President Francois Hollande as part of her 17-day tour of Europe.
Addressing the crowd in French -- the pro-democracy campaigner said although France had a history of struggle for democracy, its citizens had perhaps become complacent.
But it wasn't all business for Suu Kyi who also spoke of her admiration of France as the country of writer Victor Hugo and onion soup.
Suu Kyi talked to the press after a meeting with President Francois Hollande on the first day of a four-day visit to France that closes out a European tour that has taken her to Switzerland, Norway, Ireland and Britain. She and the French president were having dinner on Tuesday night.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been a world symbol of courage and hope for facing down Burma's military regime, which ruled for 49 years until last year. She is now helping the country usher in what many hope is a transition to democracy. And pragmatism seems to be her watchword.
'I certainly do not bear any grudges against the military regime,' she said.
'I never think of them as those people who placed me under house arrest for so many years. This is not the way we bring about national reconciliation.
'I think of them as people with whom I would like to work in order to bring reform to our country.'
Hollande, at her side, said France intends to support all those involved in the democratic transition so that Burma achieves a 'full and complete democracy'.
Suu Kyi, who turned 67 this month during her trip, is emphasising youth during her visit to France and, during her news conference, the word 'future' constantly found its way into her remarks.
In Paris, she will pick up an award on Wednesday granted in 2004 that made her an honorary citizen of the city of Paris.
On her European travels, Suu Kyi has been accorded the attention of a diva.
Asked at the news conference if she sees herself as the icon she embodies for many in the world, she scoffed, calling it unsettling, even if she understands the human need to put a face on everything.
'I represent the human face of the movement for democracy in Burma, and I think that is where it should remain,' she said.
'I'm always very disturbed when people speak of me as an icon. Icons just seem to sit there doing nothing at all - and I work very, very hard, I assure you.'
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