Editorial: Cambodia’s Diplomacy Shapes the International Community Sees the Kingdom as Emerging Global Actor
AKP Phnom Penh, March 12, 2020 --
ASEM13 is Cambodia’s biggest diplomatic event, not talk-shop
Southeast Asia will host the 13th Asia-Europe (ASEM) Summit on November 16-17, 2020 in Phnom Penh with the theme, “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth”. The summit will be the country’s biggest and most historic diplomatic event, with 53 leaders including ASEAN Secretariat and European Union as partners and hundreds of delegates from Asia and Europe, to witness the real situation in the Kingdom and how Cambodia performs her diplomacy in an increasingly polarised world.
ASEM partners represent 65 percent of the global economy, 60 percent of the world’s population, 55 percent of the world trade, and 75 percent of the world tourism.
Held at the sophisticated newly-built facilities located between the two famed rivers of Tonle Sap and Mekong, ASEM13 will not be just a “talk-shop”. Cambodia will ensure that the Summit’s round-table discussions will be a forum where leaders talk and exchange views to seek ways to serve the interests of all, regardless of whether they are from powerful, industrial nations or less economically developed ones.
Celebrating ASEM Day on March 10, March 2020, Deputy PM Prak Sokhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced that that the theme of the ASEM13 focuses on “Interactions of four main ideas, including multilateralism, growth, sustainable development and prosperity, since the Kingdom of Wonder believes that such a vision can contribute to the strengthening of the Asia-Europe partnership to ensure that multilateralism brings sustainable and inclusive growth and shared prosperity” for the blocs of 21 Asian countries, 30 European countries, ASEAN Secretariat and the European Union (EU).
Cambodia, the land of smile and love, is ready to welcome all leaders and representatives of global communities, among others with full heart, and that nothing will impede us from achieving the objective goal.
It is the first time that Cambodia has proposed such global vision with inclusive participation concerning ASEM13. The country has hosted several summits, such as ASEAN, the 37th World Heritage Session, Asian Cultural Council (ACC), the second Asia-Pacific Summit, and others, all of which drew greater attention from regional and global leaders who shared views and approved the themes of diplomacy, economics, and culture.
Cambodia joined the ten-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1999 and chaired the ASEAN Summit twice in 2002 and 2012.
In January, PM Hun Sen said at the official launch of Cambodia’s hosting of ASEM, that “Cambodia contributes further to building the ASEAN community aimed at serving people and people will be the centre of keeping and strengthening unity and centrality of ASEAN, whereby it would promote and strengthen relations with external partners for development and growth, and society based on two fundamental foundations – making consensus decision and none-interference in internal affairs.”
Phnom Penh hosted the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in 2013, alongside UNESCO and global cultural experts from more than 100 countries. The WHC then inscribed 18 heritage sites, including culture and nature ones, into the world heritage list.
The Kingdom of Wonder, in early 2019, hosted the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) attended by regional dignitaries from 14 Asian countries, including China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Nepal, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Turkey and India.
The ACC’s prime purpose is to promote, acknowledge, and exchange culture among the member states. The promotion of culture serves the enhancement and enrichment of the quality of life, prosperity, and interchanges of the peoples of these nations and, as a result, deepens mutual understanding between them.
Nearly 2,000 people, including 800 delegates from 48 countries, attended the second Asia-Pacific Summit hosted by Phnom Penh in conjunction with the U.S. based the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in November 2019.
Foreign senior government officials and parliamentarians attended the summit. They did more than just share and exchange views with Cambodia, they also came to learn how the former war-torn nation could transform itself from war to wealth by implementing the win-win policy introduced by PM Hun Sen. Cambodians from all walks of life remember by heart that they “hate war and want peace and development”.
The Second Summit focused on the importance and relevance of peace, harmony and prosperity to the current global situation where they are being threatened by existing and emerging challenges such as natural catastrophes, climate change, environmental destruction, poverty, and terrorism, among others. PM Hun Sen told the Second Summit: “the historic summit” contributes to addressing critical challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.
“Peace has allowed Cambodia to develop its economy, and stand on the right path toward sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development,” said the Premier.
Cambodia graduated from a low-income country to a lower middle-income country in 2015. The Kingdom has set goals to become an upper middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.
As a country that went through nearly 30 years of civil war from the early 1970s to1998, Cambodia learned well from its good and bad experiences. These shaped the country to stand together as one under the great leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Today world leaders increasingly view Cambodia as an emerging global leader which not only pays attention to domestic needs, but also contributes to global peace under the U.N. umbrella.
Since 2006, Cambodia has dispatched more than 6,000 personnel of its forces with skills in mine clearance, engineering, in non-combat roles to help five countries: Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Syria, Cyprus, Central Africa, Lebanon and Mali.
High expectation of ASEM13
PM Hun Sen also said in January that the EU should learn from ASEAN experiences in terms of principle of consensus and non-interference in others internal affairs.
“Consensus is the fundamental principle for ASEAN unity, though it could be difficult to reach a decision. However, it keeps ASEAN together and seeks for more compromising means than voting,” said the Premier.
Cambodia, recently credited by media as the “small country with big heart” thanks to allowing the cruise ship Westerdam to dock at the deep-water seaport of Sihanouk in February 2020 after it had been rejected by five countries over Coronavirus fears. The vessel carried more than 2,000, mostly are western tourists.
Phnom Penh also has high expectations for a successful summit of ASEM13. Meeting those expectations will need supports from stakeholders because no single country can tackle the issues and challenges alone.
Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn says, “ASEM has played a crucial role in promoting Asia-Europe partnership and cooperation for enhanced peace, economic prosperity and social progress… ASEM has become of the cornerstones of the multilateral system and global governance.”
At the coming summit, Cambodia will join hands with ASEM to achieve that vision, in which Cambodia has been committed to play her part since she joined ASEM partner in 2004.
“We have actively contributed on all pillars to make this forum for cooperation between Asia and Europe more dynamic,” Deputy PM Prak Sokhonn said on the celebration of ASEM Day in the capital’s centre where booths represented the eight side events are displayed, attended by foreign diplomats, on March 10, 2020, along with massive participations.
“As a small but nonetheless sovereign state, we value foremost its core principles of informality, flexibility, and mutual interest in the spirit of consensus and equal partnership,” he said.
Deputy PM Prak Sokhonn emphasised that, “the hosting of the Summit is the greatest opportunity for Cambodia to affirm, at the highest level, our commitment to strengthen the multilateral system, our contribution to the promotion of collective efforts to address global challenges and our participation in the exploring opportunities to revitalise the global economy.”
Ek Tha, spokesman of the Council of Ministers;
Standing Vice-Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit