Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is my great pleasure and honor to address this August Conference before all extraordinary individuals, the leaders of Asian political parties. Regardless of our political affiliations, here we are joined together in the common goals of creating a culture of cooperation and committing to the welfare of Asia, our great continent. I sincerely thank the organizing committee, especially the Communist Party of China for offering this precious opportunity.
2. At the outset, may I bring you all, the warmest greetings and good wishes from the people and the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, especially from the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Today, I am pleased to share with you my humble views on some issues of our region’s interest.
The challenges to regional stability
3. We reach out to meet as enormous changes sweep over Asia in recent decades particularly amid forces of globalization and regionalism. Stronger economic integration across Asia has fostered more favorable conditions for solving the lingering strategic and geopolitical problems. The modernization of the economic, social and political landscape in the People’s Republic of China signifies a “new era” for Asia. ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) have increasingly focused on economic growth, amplified trade and investment and expanded tourist linkages. East Asia cooperation has been growing through the ASEAN+3 mechanism, moving step by step towards an East Asian community. Indeed, in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, East Asia has resumed its ascension into enduring prosperity. However, given continuing uncertainty in world politics, our region still faces numerous challenges, which require us to come up with a comprehensive new security concept for regional security cooperation in Asia, and the long-term vision and program for the social and economic development of our countries and of the world community.
4. Undoubtedly, prosperity cannot be pursued in the absence of peace and security. There are an increasing number of factors affecting peace and development, given the inter-woven security issues in traditional and non-conventional security areas. Since the September 11 event, terrorism remains a serious threat to the region as whole, let alone the entire world. The threat of terrorism and other transnational crimes continues to pose great challenge to our region, collectively and individually.
5. In this context, while fighting terrorism, we are facing the increasing challenge of energy security as the world oil prices continue to rise. Many countries in Asia depend substantially on oil imports. For this reason, the recent drastic increase in oil prices in the world markets has undoubtedly had a negative impact on the prospect of robust growth in a number of countries in the region, thus causing serious energy security for the regional and global economies.
6. At the same time, we should not be complacent, and we must be more proactive in collectively addressing the most outstanding, urgent and fast-spreading issues confronting us in the 21st century, which are the fulfillment of the basic needs of all, the interlinked problems of the specters of new diseases – particularly HIV/AIDS, SARS or avian flu, transnational crimes, especially drug and human trafficking, nuclear proliferation, population growth and the digital divide.
The new configuration of Asia
7. Strengthening the existing mechanisms namely, ASEAN Dialogue Partners, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN+3, ASEAN+1 and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) are of strategic importance in providing geo-political and geo-economic umbrella for Asia to prosper. Cambodia welcomes India, China and Japan’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. The Code of Conduct in the South China Sea was adopted during the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in 2002. This strategic partnership is critical to ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
8. China has become an economic powerhouse in East Asia. We have witnessed that China is stronger not only in terms of economic strength, but also her political influence and diplomacy are spreading beyond the geographic borders. ASEAN has much to benefit from more developed China, which absorbs more and more imports from all of us, and the improvement in the living standards of the Chinese people will give a boost to the influx of tourists to Southeast Asia. It is my conviction that in 2010, the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area of nearly 2 billion people will take shape and determine the dimension of our engagement with China.
9. Japan also plays an important role and positions herself at the core of the new configuration of political and economic landscapes of East Asia. The heart of this cooperation is “the Koizumi’s Initiative for ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership”, projected to be realized by 2012, which will promote not only the liberalization of investment and trade in goods and services, but also encourages advanced cooperation in a wide range of fields from tourism to human resources development and small and medium-sized corporations.
10. ASEAN is also discussing with the Republic of Korea on trade liberalization, investment, and economic cooperation. At the Bali Summit, ASEAN welcomed the proposal of the Republic of Korea (ROK) to study the possibility of an ASEAN-ROK FTA.
11. India will become another economic powerhouse in the region and a promising growth center. The establishment of an ASEAN-India FTA by 2011 would facilitate the effective linkages of ASEAN to the free trade area of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The ASEAN Community
12. Integration in ASEAN is at the heart of our regional development strategy. Indeed, we are on a long journey toward an integrated and competitive ASEAN Community. But, our success will depend on how well we implement the integration initiatives by:
- Creating conducive economic and political climate and network of both soft- and hardware physical infrastructures to enable free movement of creative and talented people who can bring to ASEAN the technological and value-added edge;
- Enhance the competitiveness of ASEAN as a regional production and tourist destination, as well as to enhance the competitive edge of individual ASEAN members to trade, innovate, and attract investors and tourists within the region and from outside the region.
- Last but not least, efforts in bridging the development gap in ASEAN should be the top and the most urgent priority for our region and for all development partners concerned. The success on this front will provide a full meaning for ASEAN integration and the vision of transforming ASEAN into a Community based on three pillars, namely political and security cooperation, economic cooperation, and social and cultural cooperation. This can be considered as three inter-twined configurations, which will take shape by 2020.
13. I am convinced that as the leaders of political parties, we have obligation to positively contribute to the development of our respective country and people in the quest for progress and prosperity, by effectively and efficiently responding to both the challenges and opportunities facing our peoples. As we win our people’s mandate to serve, we take on the grave responsibility to deliver the basic goods and services they require. In fact, our peoples judge us by our concrete actions, tending to place more value on the short-term delivery of goods and services rather than on long-term leadership. This is a key test of political leadership – to ensure popular support through peaceful and democratic means, leading them towards the long-term goals of strategic importance to the country, rather than focusing on winning the polls in the short term.
14. With full determination, the Kingdom of Cambodia has decisively stepped forward to engage in the dynamics of Asia’s transformation. The Cambodian people have raised their eyes to the future, firmly moving beyond the shadows of our recent history, towards confidence and a bright future. By strengthening peace, national reconciliation, Democracy, respect for human rights and dignity and with strenuous effort in ensuring sustainable and equitable social-economic development, we have an ambition to firmly grasp our destiny and engage, on an equal footing, in all regional and world affairs, as a strong and proud nation.
15. Cooperation between political parties in Cambodia is crucial in ensuring political stability and social progress, which is the backbone of peace and well-being of our people. Therefore, we highly value the stability of political institutions, especially the development of political parties and political process with responsibility, accountability and based on the spirit of national conciliation, mutual compromise and the principles of Democracy, which are the critical factors to foster certainty in the society. They say that politics and democracy are ultimately the fine-art of compromise towards a common cause, between individuals, between opposing view points, between divergent opinions and paths.
16. Undoubtedly, to achieve the above objectives, we are required to make short term sacrifices with the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual compromise, in order to reach common goals, serving the best interest of our people in the long term. In this spirit, Cambodia will continue a take decisive steps to expand and deepen reforms, and in return, making Cambodia a country of peace, stability, progress, prosperity and development, and a country with freer, more open to the world, and can integrate itself quickly into the regional and international community.
17. A new future awaits us. I am confident that Cambodia can respond successfully to the challenges of development. By promoting sincere collaboration and cooperation, we will be happy with the increased living standard of our people./.