Your Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and Chargé d’Affaires a.i.
Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure and honor to join this inauguration of the new office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFA).
On this solemn occasion, may I recall some of the memories about the establishment of MFA in 1979. After the fall of Khmer Rouge regime, I myself, as the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, mobilized a number of educated people left from Khmer Rouge genocide to collect old desks and chairs and office stationeries to set up an office for the ministry. Then, we started preparing our works on foreign affairs by using the building of Buddhist Faculty as the MFA office until now.
As the international cooperation is now widely expanding in both bilateral and multilateral relations with regional and international organizations and the need for giving back the building to Buddhist University, I made the decision for the construction of this new office in order to respond to the need of foreign affairs workloads and to meet the demand of Buddhism education for our monks.
With my warmest regards and all these memories, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to all the management and staff who started the work together during the time of economic, political and diplomatic hardships.
The Royal Government of Cambodia always appreciates and places great importance to the role of MFA in implementing a foreign policy which is independent, neutral, non-partisan, with close cooperation with all countries on the basis of equity, non-interference in each other internal affairs, mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Moreover, the MFA also plays an important role in our thrust to rehabilitate and develop the country in all sectors. Specifically, in the Triangle Strategy and Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government in the second and third terms of Legislature respectively, diplomatic relations and international affairs are basic-non-condition in integrating Cambodia into regional and world community and strengthening cooperation in all sectors with other countries of the world aiming at promoting social and economic development of Cambodia.
In fact, the development of Cambodia cannot be accomplished in isolation, especially during this rapidly changing globalization era, either in politics, diplomatic, economics, trade or investment. These facts are undeniable on the need for cooperation with international community to be more proactive. In addition to regional and international integration, Cambodia will face new challenges such as international terrorism, cross-border crimes, human and drug trafficking, illegal migration, epidemic of transmittal diseases and environmental issues so on and so forth. This requires joint cooperation in regional and international community to prevent and address the outstanding problems and propose measures, policies and strategies for long term cooperation.
In contributing to the rehabilitation and development of Cambodia as well as tackling the above new challenges and contributing building up a world of peace and prosperity, the RGC has tasked the MFA to strengthen and expand proactive cooperation with all countries to broadly cover all the sectors, both in bilateral and multilateral frameworks. Currently, Cambodia is involved in many regional and international organizations, such as ASEA, GMS, the Ayeyawade-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMES), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), ASEM and other regional cooperation such as the development triangles between Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos and Cambodia-Laos-Thailand.
In this sense, economic integration and international cooperation constitute the main pillars supporting economic growth in Cambodia. Market access is critical for promoting growth and poverty reduction. Cambodia has launched an aggressive campaign of its integration into international community. Cambodia’s membership in ASEAN and the WTO, as well as cooperation within the framework of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS), the Ayeyawade-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Triangular Development provide great opportunity to reform the investment and foreign trade regime by focusing on the liberalization and decentralization of decision making process, reducing the bureaucratic red tapes, removing impediments to investments, implementing reform programs and initiating the modernization of the national economy and upgrade its competitiveness to the regional and international standards.
To maximize the gains from international integration, Cambodia will need to strengthen its institutional capacity to implement cooperative strategies. The Royal Government will continue to liberalize trade and ensure free flow of goods and services both within the country and between Cambodia and other key partners in the region and the world, and particularly implement measures that will improve the competitiveness of Cambodian products. Thus, I appeal to the MFA to further strengthen its role in diplomatic relations and international affairs which serve our economic interests, especially in attracting and facilitating tourists and investors to come to Cambodia and closely cooperate with other concerned ministries/institutions of the government.
Moreover, as participation in regional and international organizations and cooperation with our friendly countries are kept expanding, the MFA will need to focus on human resource development and capacity building, ensuring the success and timely responding to the current needs of country.
At the same time, to successfully implement the “Rectangular Strategy” of the Royal Government, all of our embassies, general consulates and honorary consuls in foreign countries must exert their utmost efforts in actively and carefully fulfilling their role to improve national notoriety and image in international arena, that amplifies Cambodia’s participation in regional and international affairs as well as expands favorable international factors for the country. This is indeed promoting the socio-economic development and improving our people’s livelihoods to a better, modern and prosperous level through our concerted efforts in enhancing international cooperation, both bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
The first decade of this millennium has brought about profound metamorphosis in political, social and economic nerves as well as in other aspects of the region and the world. This change not only presents the opportunities but also the challenges that we must to overcome and seek an implementation of comprehensive and more profound reforms humbled by courage and strong political will. In this sense, our main objective is to ensure peace, security, stability, sustainable development, common prosperity and coexistence in a harmonized community with shared spirit and solidarity through solid and unaffected step ahead toward integration and close cooperation that endow with mutual interest.
Within external context, Cambodia is proud to have been appropriately and clearly contributed to regional efforts to strengthen peace, stability and development that provide mutual benefit with friendship, solidarity and cooperation spirit. Ensured peace and national reconciliation as well as Cambodian committed adoption of democracy principles, respect and protection of human rights and market economy are the invaluable contributions to peace, security, stability and progress of ASEAN and East Asia.
One of our main agenda is rapid integration of Cambodia in regional economy and WTO so that the country will gain appropriate benefits from strong current of globalization. My ambition is to see Cambodia holding its own destiny once again and playing an effective and equal role in all regional and international affairs.
Nevertheless, we recognize that Cambodia still has many tasks to fulfill to satisfy our great passion and ambition. Nation building and reforms, built on consensus, will not be accomplished in solitude, in a day, a month or even a year even with giant leap. Development can only be successfully achieved through continuous and serious process. In this sense, reforms and development are not the only our objective but a long journey to go along. In this journey, we need sincere partnership and close cooperation with all our partners based on shared spirit and mutual understanding. All these are constituted as key principle of the Win-Win Strategy.
Indeed, this tremendous building with Khmer style architecture surely lends a hand in showing good image of Phnom Penh, our capital city. But more importantly, this building responds well to the need of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to appropriately welcome and provide hospitality to our foreign delegates and guests, whose numbers are now in increase everyday. At the same time, the return of the previous building of the ministry back to Buddhist University will help facilitating the university activities, thus helping education of our Buddhist monks.
In closing, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I take this opportunity to thank our partner countries as well as the many international organizations that have provided supports for socio-economic development of Cambodia, resulting in steady and gradual progress in most sectors.
I also take this opportunity to thank and appreciate the management and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation who have exerted all their efforts in implementing the Royal Government policies related to international cooperation and Cambodia’s integration, with progress both in terms of scope and substance, into regional and international community. This surely helps promote and improve Cambodian economy that brings about a better live and dignity to our people and the country that we are living in an independent state with true sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Finally, may I wish you all the five gems of Buddhist blessing and may the New Year 2005 bring about happiness and prosperity to you all. I now declare the official opening of the new building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.