Excellency Chair of the Conference,
Excellency Ms. Aurélie Filippetti, Minister of Culture and Communications of Republic of France,
Excellency Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine, Deptuy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan,
Excellencies Co-Chairs of the ICC-Angkor,
Excellency Mr. Kishore Rao, Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center and High Representative of Madam Director General of UNESCO,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is my pleasure to attend the opening of this historic “3rd Inter-Governmental Conference on Angkor”. Cambodia indeed takes great pride in hosting this major conference. On behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all delegations and international friends for valuing Cambodia highly in both political and economic aspects. In fact, your participation in this conference show your confidence in the Royal Government of Cambodia of the 5th Legislature of the National Assembly, formed shortly after the election on 28th July 2013.
I highly appreciate your participation in this event as it will help strengthen our solidarity and cooperation among countries aimed to achieve the common goal of conserving and protecting the heritage of humanity i.e. Angkor.
Furthermore, your presence reaffirms your commitment to close collaboration with the Royal Government of Cambodia to continue to prepare the vision and action plan for the new decade of Angkor, 2014-2024. In fact, this important conference is the third in a series of conferences, following the organization of the first conference in Tokyo in October 1993, initiated by Japan in response to the request of the most respected His Late Majesty Preah Karuna Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, the Great Heroic King, King-Father of Khmer, Preah Borom Ratanak Kaudh during His Late Majesty’s tenure as the then President of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia. As a result, the international community launched a so-called “Save Angkor” campaign in Tokyo aimed to design and implement the primary development policy along with a set of urgent measures. Then, during the 2nd intergovernmental conference held in Paris in November 2003, initiated by France, a set of criteria for sustainable development of the historic site of Angkor and its surrounding region was established.
Following that conference, the Royal Government of Cambodia laid out a national policy framework for the implementation at both regional and local level by giving high priority to the preservation and development of Angkor temple complex along with poverty reduction of Cambodia people. In addition, at the historic site of Angkor, we focused on preserving theintegrity of the historic site, including all temples in their original form. As a result, with strong support from international community, we have implemented this policy in close partnership with UNESCO and more than twenty countries, including scientific, cultural and technical institutions from four continents in response to the appeal of Angkor launched under the framework of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC-Angkor).
Cambodia hosted the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee in June 2013, in cooperation with UNESCO. In the meeting, Cambodia proudly informed all 190 signatory states to the World Heritage Convention and the UNESCO that Cambodia ratified not only the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, but also the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
As a result, the meeting was unanimously viewed as an unprecedented success in which artistic, archaeological and historic heritage was further promoted.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I deeply thank friend countries, institutions, and international organizations, in particular UNESCO as well as non-government organizations and all stakeholders for actively participating in research and preservation projects and promoting the value of sustainable development under the framework of ICC-Angkor as well as cooperation with the APSARA Authority since 1993. Overall, during 20 years of its existence, ICC-Angkor has constantly performed its duties to a very high standard and with strong sense of responsibility for the cause of Angkor, which is the priceless national and world heritage, with great success. This is an outstanding record as the “Angkor Campaign” has been run longer than other major campaigns of the UNESCO such as Aswan and Luxor of Egypt, Borobodur of Indonesia, and Carthage of Tunisia and so on. We are very proud of this success which has received congratulations from UNESCO and been widely used as example for other countries.
At this auspicious commemoration of the anniversary, I would like to congratulate and thank the ICC-Angkor for its role in ensuring the well-deserved status of Khmer civilization in human history, in particular, in this era of scientific and technological advancement. Alongside, we must publicly acknowledge that the success of the ICC-Angkor over the last 20 years cannot be achieved without contribution from the joint effort of Japan and France in their capacity as co-chairs of the Committee. In fact, Japan and France have vigorously and properly performed their roles.
Having said this, I am of firm view that in the next decades, under the leadership of the co-chairs, good friends of Cambodia, we will strive to transform the ICC-Angkor into a global role model of effectiveness, commitment and close partnership.
We have been working so hard together to save Angkor. What we get along the way is socio-economic development and poverty reduction. To realize this noble objective, the Royal Government of the Fifth Legislature will further strengthen and expand all achievements to date through strengthening peace, political stability, security and order in society by implementing specific measures aimed to enhance the rule of law, respect for human right, freedom and dignity, as well as multiparty democracy, political condition and security that are favorable for sustainable development in the long term, with the view of enhancing living standard and welfare of the people and equitable economic development as well as conservation of cultural heritage across the country. In this spirit, it is without doubt that cultural heritage is the soul of Cambodia. Angkor is the national symbol as Angkor Wat is depicted on the national flag of Cambodia. At this point, I would like to illustrate that the Kingdom of Cambodia is the only country in the world that depict its national cultural heritage, i.e. Angkor, that is also world heritage, on its national flag. Thus, Angkor Campaign is not only about development and conservation of the cultural heritage but also a real contribution to realizing Cambodia’s development goals.
In this sense, I would like to appeal to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen representatives of the international community, who are present in this conference, to renew commitment to the work plan of the new decade in protecting and preserving the Historic Site of Angkor with Apsara Authority. It is necessary for us to jointly review methodologies and new technology to ensure the management of this world heritage site adheres to code of ethics and conduct on conservation and development as stipulated in the “Angkor Charter”.
Alongside, an important issue that cannot be overlooked is Siem Reap City because it is the place that welcomes and accommodates all tourists visiting Angkor. Siem Reap is rich in priceless properties along with buildings of traditional architectural design, historical pagodas, and efficient traditional hydrological system within the complex of this world cultural heritage. Therefore, I would like to draw more attention to this city as cultural tourism resort for the present and the future. Against the backdrop of global attention to socio-economic development and management of cultural heritage, I encourage all the participants to stick to comprehensive, broad and in-depth deliberation by linking the management of cultural heritage with poverty reduction, which is a solid economic factor for underpinning sustainable development.
In this connection, I think that there are four significant and priceless compositions that make up the Angkor Scenery which are temple, water, forest, and people. Therefore, we must focus attention on these compositions. Taking this opportunity, I would like to commend Cambodian experts for successfully preventing the flooding of Siem Reap International Airport, Angkor and Siem Reap City in this and last year.
I would like to request the Apsara Authority and young Cambodian experts and all stakeholders to joint hands to fight the decaying of temple stone and damage of sculpture caused by environmental pollution. In this regard, I would like to highly encourage the development of green belt project carried out by the Apsara Authority, provincial authority and GIZ of Federal Republic of Germany as well as community development project in Angkor region jointly implemented by Apsara Authority and the Government of New Zealand. Alongside, I would like to draw your attention to a fact that in spite of concern about the risk posed to resort and temple caused by overwhelming number of tourists, we should be vigilant and should not draw any negative conclusion from the surge of tourists. The historic site of Angkor extends over 40,000 hectares with many temples that can be visited by tourists. Thus, the key issue is how we manage the distribution and flow of tourists.
Once again, I would like highly value and extend my warmest welcome to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and wish you all pleasant and comfortable stay; and the good memories of “Kingdom of Wonder” will remain in your heart after returning to your countries.
Finally, together with the Opening of “3rd Inter-Governmental Conference on Angkor” now, I would like to wish Excellencies, delegates, ladies and gentlemen happiness and prosperity. I look forward to the fruitful outcome of the conference./.