Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cambodia toasts diplomatic ties with Vietnam

On the occasion of Cambodia’s National Day today, the country’s ambassador, Vann Phal, spoke to Viet Nam News.

Cambodian ambassador Vann Phal.

As Viet Nam and Cambodia are celebrating their 40th year of diplomatic ties, what do you think is the most important aspect of the two countries’ relationship?

Viet Nam and Cambodia are two neighbouring countries who have maintained a long history of close bonds and deep attachments. Their diplomatic relationship was officially established on June 24, 1967. This event was of great significance to the fight for independence, unification and development of each country. Our two peoples have made significant progress in their endeavours to promote economy, trade and cultural exchanges between our countries.

The frequent exchanges of high level visits, particularly in recent years, has not only deepened personal ties between the leaders of our countries, but has also encouraged progress and co-operation in all fields, serving the mutual interests of our peoples as well as contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Cambodia at a glance

Area: 181,040sq.km
Population: over 13 million
Capital: Phnom Penh
Language: Khmer
Currency: riel
National Flag: Two blue bands and one red band, with a white three-towered temple representing Angkor Wat outlined in black in the center of the red band.

The co-operation between the two foreign affairs ministries has strengthened exchanges and mutual understanding. The two sides have also exchanged the ratification of the consular agreement, thus facilitating the implementation of consular co-operation between the two countries.

Last year, the volume of imports and exports for products increased by roughly 30 per cent while the value of Cambodia’s goods exported to the Vietnamese market reached US$200 million and its imports from Viet Nam reached $800 million. The future target will be to increase the volume of goods exchanged between the two countries, up to $2 billion by 2010.

What areas should the two countries focus on, when working on trade co-operations in the future to reach the target of $2 billion in bilateral trade turnover by 2010 ?

Bilateral relations have deeply and broadly burgeoned in all fields over the past few years. Along with the prosperous development of the countries’ political relationships, bilateral co-operation in economics, trade and investment has been increasingly important and promoted. In the future, in order to strongly elevate co-operation in trade ties to a new height in bilateral trade turnover by 2010, the two sides have actively worked together as follows: The focal point of diplomacy for economic development is to help promote bilateral trade and to protect and aid Cambodian investors and entrepreneurs who have been doing business in this country. Also we will work on tax incentives on a variety of commodities, to make life easier. Products made in one country with the investment of another country in the triangle of development are transported with the simplest of procedures. There is also the increased effectiveness of economic, trade and investment co-operation, with deepened co-operation in some concrete fields such as agriculture, transportation, hydropower, mineral and oil exploitation, rubber plantation, health care and tourism.

It is also necessary to educate and raise people’s awareness in both countries about the excellent traditional friendship Cambodia and Viet Nam share.

A Cambodian man and a boy ride on an elephant in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. — AFP/VNS photo

How would you evaluate the progress of border demarcations between Viet Nam and Cambodia? Do you think the demarcation and landmark planning can be finished by next year, as agreed upon by both countries?

The Supplementary Treaty to the 1985 Viet Nam-Cambodia Treaty on Border Delimitation and the current process of landmark plantation between the two countries, signed by the Vietnamese and Cambodian prime ministers in Ha Noi on October 10, 2005, created a legal foundation for a definite and sustainable resolution of borderline issues between the two countries, helping boost peace, co-operation and friendship. According to the Viet Nam-Cambodia Committee for Land Border Demarcation and Marker Planting, 374 landmarks are to be planted along the 1,137km border that straddles Viet Nam and Cambodia.

From September 2006 to June 2008, the countries will implement work on demarcating and planting landmark pillars on the sites. And in December 2008, both countries will complete the documents and prepare the protocol on demarcating and planting land markers.

The year 2007 is an important transitional year to achieve completion of the border demarcation and the planting of border markers. But border demarcating faces many difficulties that stem not only from technical issues such as how to accurately match landmarks on the real site from the locations on the maps, but also from the difficulties of location and poor weather.

I am firmly convinced that the two sides agreed to complete preparatory work as soon as possible to pave the way for demarcating the border and planting the markers, which has been scheduled for completion by the two governments prior to the end of 2008.

What are the potentials for tourism co-operation between Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia?

Tourism has been chosen as a forerunner in contributing to Cambodia’s economic growth and social development, indeed, to the well being of the population as a whole.

The open sky policy, which was adopted by the Royal Government of Cambodia in 1997, bore fruitful results when the number of tourist arrivals increased year on year.

Convenient border crossings by water, land and air facilitate extensive tourism services which connect Cambodia to the rest of the world. The uniqueness of Cambodian culture and her astonishing natural beauty will thrill tourists. The Angkor complex, the largest monumental site in the world, is the crown jewel of our treasures; it truly embodies Cambodian tourism potential.

Indeed, Cambodia’s coastal area also has great potential as a major tourist destination with its pristine beaches, underwater treasures and wide range of aquatic activities. Cambodia’s eco-tourism sites offer visitors exquisite landscapes, waterfalls, wildlife, tribal villages and rare species of birds, flora and fauna that have fascinated explorers, naturalists and bird watches for centuries.

What developments have you seen in Viet Nam since you took your post as ambassador here, compared with your previous stay?

As the Cambodian Ambassador to Viet Nam, I appreciate the policy of the Vietnamese Party and State to ensure stability, security and socio-economic development in Viet Nam.

After Viet Nam became an official member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), its diplomatic relations expanded. Also, on this occasion, I would like to express my congratulations to the Party, State and Government of Viet Nam on the occasion that Viet Nam has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2008-2009 tenure and as a member of the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU).

On the basis of traditional friendship and good co-operation, the high-ranking leaders of Cambodia and Viet Nam have often exchanged views based on mutual understandings and have signed many Agreements on co-operation in all fields.

Looking back at 2007, we can see that high-ranking Vietnamese leaders such as President Nguyen Minh Triet and Chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Phu Trong both made visits to Cambodia. And many Cambodian delegations from different ministries and branches also came to Viet Nam to consolidate and strengthen our co-operation and relationships.

I would like to thank Viet Nam News for publishing these issues, and I hope the co-operation between our embassy and Viet Nam News will continue to develop for the benefit of both our peoples. — VNS

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