After the call-on of the Russian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Hun Sen answered a few questions raised by the journalists at the Council of Ministers. The following selected briefing focused on (1) the diplomatic relations between Cambodian and Russia, (2) the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Myanmar, (3) the issue of abdication of HM the King, and (4) the next Consultative Group meeting on Cambodia.
Cambodia-Russian Diplomatic Relations
During the discussion we have also talked about my future visit to the Russian Federation. We have indeed postponed my visit in 2000 and 2001 because of the flood threatening situation in the country. Currently the two sides have gone into discussion again about rescheduling my visit to the Russian Federation at an acceptable timeframe for both sides. I think this is an opportunity for me to travel to a number of countries that we have not reached them out yet…
Cambodia and the Russian Federation, formerly the Soviet Union, have got a vast potential in the two countries’ cooperation. It is known to all that the two countries have positive cooperation in some fields like the cooperation in the fight against terrorism and cooperation on a number of international issues because of our similar stands. We also have cooperation in the compilation of research data in the field of geological and mineral resources. It is true that the level of economic and trade cooperation as well as investment have yet to reach our potential.
The two sides have to seek out new paradigms to give such cooperation a new momentum. In this connection I may inform you all that the Ministries of Economy and Finance of the two countries have been working on the issue of Cambodian debt to the Russian Federation in the past as it is indeed the state obligation. We also look into the issue of repaying the Cambodian debt to the United States of America.
The Forthcoming Visit to Cambodia of the Prime Minister of Myanmar
As far as this visit is concerned I do not think we have much to do as this is a routine visit by a new Prime Minister of an ASEAN member country to other member states. On top of this during the four-countries (Cambodia, Laos, Mynamar and Thailand) meeting in Bagan, a good number of cooperative agreements have been signed already. In relation to issue of Myanmar’s entry into the ASEM member countries, Cambodia has made its position clear that it will choose to wait for its friend, and would join the above community only if we all are accepted together.
The concern has been resolved this way to justify both bilateral relations as well as within the framework of ASEAN. If the ten new states of the European Union are to be accepted, the three member states of ASEAN have to be accepted all at once as well. We decided to wait if Myanmar is not accepted so that we could maintain the unity in ASEAN. We must be careful in this matter as one may misjudge that ASEAN suffers a split on issue of ASEM.
The Issue of Abdication
I do not have a habit to make comments on the Royal messages of HM the King. According to the Constitution, it is forbidden to make any interpretation of the Royal message of HM the King. Aside from this in Cambodia we have tremendous task to fulfill. As you can see we have flood along the Mekong and at the same time we have drought in a number of places. This, I think, requires more prompt attentions. The new Royal Government also has plenty of urgent works to implement and its Cabinet meeting this week.
I am sure you will agree with me that the people’s hunger is the urgent issue to look after. As far as the matter is concerned I think we should follow the Constitution where two basic Articles should be observed. First, Article 7 stipulates that HM the King is a lifelong Head of State. This leaves no room for any abdications against the will of the Constitution. Second, Successor of HM the King must be chosen one week at the latest after the decease of the current King…
As I have been busy focusing on social, economic, agricultural issues, disaster and the people’s poverty at large, I seem to have given no thought on the issue of abdication. But I am holding on to the Constitution that I have mentioned above.
The Next Consultative Group Meeting on Cambodia
HE Senior Minister Keat Chhon is giving thought on this issue as to when should the next Consultative Group Meeting be conducted. At first I have scheduled for a Government-Private Sector Meeting on August 18, 2004 but because of some urgency to take care of we have rescheduled it to August 20, 2004. The meeting will be a forum to focus on issues that we failed to address over the year.
As far as the Consultative Group Meeting is concerned, according to our plan it should be organized after the Government-Private Sector Meeting as we would use this forum to first explain the political platform of the Royal Government and what need to be done thereafter.
I think it would not be long as the Cabinet meeting this week will look into four issues: (1) Financial Law for the Budget Management for 2004, (2) Ratification for the Accession of Cambodia into the World Trade Organization, (3) Ratification for the Cambodia-UN Agreement on the Trial of the Senior Leader of the Khmer Rouge and (4) Reviewing reports relating to the strategy for the poverty reduction./.