Ambassador: Cambodia-Vietnam cooperation grows
Cambodian Ambassador to Vietnam Vann Phal has highlighted developments in cooperative ties between Vietnam and Cambodia during an interview granted to the Vietnamese press to mark the 40th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic ties. The interview runs as follows:
Q: What is your assessment of the relations between Vietnam and Cambodia in the fields of politics, economy and culture in recent years?
A: Cambodia and Vietnam’s traditional ties were built on a firm foundation that was fostered and preserved by senior leaders. The ties were based on the two nations' aspirations for solidarity, friendship and mutual assistance in the course of national liberation to gain independence, peace, freedom and development. Our leaders have made regular visits to each other and held frequent working sessions to seek ways to turn the people's aspirations for solidarity, friendship and comprehensive cooperation into reality.
In the context of great upheavals in the region, it is significant that the ties between Cambodia and Vietnam are growing day by day, despite difficulties at time.
In particular, the two countries' cooperation has recently recorded remarkable developments. First of all, their political ties have been constantly strengthened and solidified through a series of visits by the two countries' high-ranking leaders. Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh visited Cambodia in March 2005; State President Nguyen Minh Triet, in March 2007; former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, in March 2006; Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, in December 2006. Chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Phu Trong has also visited Cambodia, while King Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Vietnam in March 2006 and October 2005, respectively.
Alongside the exchange of visits by Party, State, Government and National Assembly leaders, the two sides have made concerted efforts to bolster the ties between their agencies, sectors, mass organisations, and localities, especially those along the borders. These formal and informal visits demonstrated high resolve of the two countries' leaders in building and fortifying the two countries' relationships under the motto of "good neighbourliness, traditional friendship, and long-term, durable and comprehensive cooperation".
The Cambodian Royal Government and the Vietnamese Government have made a sound decision to sign the supplementary agreement on the 1985 treaty to settle the long-standing border issues in order to build a peaceful borderline, which will be significant to the future of the two countries. In this spirit, the inauguration of the border marker at the Ba Vat-Moc Bai international border gate was held on Sept. 27, 2006 in the witness of the two countries’ Prime Ministers. The two countries plan to finalise the installation of landmarks in 2008.
Agreements reached during high-level visits have created important legal and political ground for the two countries’ cooperative ties to expand and become more practical and effective in all the fields of economics, culture, education, health care and transport and communications. In parallel with the fine development of the two countries’ political relations, the two governments have paid due attention to the development of multi-faceted bilateral cooperation based on the principle of equality and mutual benefits. The two countries have devised a number of mechanisms for bilateral cooperation in economics, culture, science and technology. The two governments also paid special attention to exchange activities to boost the understanding between the two people, especially the youth.
In addition to bilateral relationship, as members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the two countries have accelerated cooperation and mutual assistance within the framework of international and regional cooperation mechanisms such as the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the Non-Aligned Movement, the United Nations, the Francophone, the Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos Development Triangle, the West-East Corridor (WEC), the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), and the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam cooperation (CLMV). The two nations have regularly exchanged views and coordinated their activities at international and regional forums. Furthermore, the two countries have fulfilled their international tasks in protecting the environment and combating terrorism as well as seeking peaceful solutions to all issues and realising the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
I firmly believe that the two countries’ future relationship that is based on mutual respect, equality and mutual interests will enjoy fine results in all domains, meeting the two peoples’ desire to live in peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region and the world at large.
First of all, I highly appreciate the fine development of the Cambodia-Vietnam relationship and comprehensive bilateral cooperation. I hope that the two countries’ comprehensive cooperation will continue to be promoted in the coming years with the aim of ensuring stability, peace and economic development for the two countries in the new regional and international context.
Q: In your opinion, which sectors should the two countries give priorities to in order to improve the efficiency of bilateral cooperation and successfully tap their respective strengths?
A: To expand bilateral cooperation in an effective way, the two countries should continue to consolidate and develop their relations along the direction agreed by leaders of the both countries during their visits. Furthermore, they should build appropriate mechanisms and policies to facilitate investment by both Vietnamese and Cambodian businesses in industry, agriculture, tourism and construction. The two governments should pour more capital into economic cooperation between bordering provinces and prioritise sectors which the two countries have strengths in such as tourism, education, health care and transportation.
Vietnam-Cambodia friendship and solidarity should be consolidated and strengthened to serve each country's cause of national defence and construction and facilitate their international integration processes.
Cooperation in security and defence should also receive due attention in order to create concerted actions in the fight against transnational crimes for the sake of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world at large.
The two countries should strive to settle pending issues, including land border marker planting and immigrants in a cordial spirit so as not to let them affect bilateral relations.
Q: In recent years, fairs of high-quality Vietnamese goods are annually organised in Cambodia. What do you think about these annual fairs and their role in the development of the two countries’ trade, investment and tourism relations?
A: The organisation of annual fairs of high-quality Vietnamese goods and the development of bilateral trade, investment and tourism relations over recent years are very useful in helping the two countries improve their products’ competitiveness, attract foreign investment and revise legal procedures, after Cambodia and Vietnam entered the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
In addition, favourable natural conditions and potentials in tourism of the two countries have brought numerous opportunities for cooperation. The two countries should maintain their multifaceted cooperation in line with the current trend of integration and economic development, and actively carry out the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia triangle development roadmap and the cooperation programme in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).
Over recent years, bilateral relations have made progresses in all fields and obtained encouraging achievements. The first conference of the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Joint-Coordination Committee held in Pleiku town, Central Highlands Gia Lai province of Vietnam in May 17-18 this year helped facilitate the movement of people, vehicles and products, encourage investment, trade and tourism, in a bid to boost development in the triangle region, fully tap potentials of agro-industrial areas in ten provinces of the three countries. The Co-chairmen of the Joint-Coordination Committee decided to levy preferential tariffs and simplify procedures for cross-border trade in the region.
In 2006 alone, Cambodia-Vietnam trade surged by 30% year-on-year. Vietnam exported US $780 million worth of goods to Cambodia and imported US $170 million. The two countries aim to obtain US $2 billion in trade by 2010.
I hope that bilateral trade, investment and tourism relations in coming years would be developed further in order to contribute to economic development in the region, particularly in transportation and tourism.
Q: You have just taken up your assignment in Vietnam, so what are your impressions of the land, people and development of the country?
A: I have been here just 23 days. However, I worked at the Cambodian Embassy in Vietnam from 1994-1998. Coming back to Vietnam after nine years, I was very surprised at the rapid development of your country. It can be said that Vietnam is running towards the future.
Since Vietnam began its renewal process in 1986, the country has seen big changes. With its accession to international organisations such as the WTO and APEC, Vietnam’s position on the international arena has increasingly improved. I believed that under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam, your country will soon reach the goal of becoming an industrial nation by 2010. (VNA)
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