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DPM Prak Sokhonn Reaffirms Cambodia’s Commitment Toward ASEAN Community-Building

PHNOM PENH: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn, has said that Cambodia’s political will and commitment toward ASEAN Community-building efforts have been consistent and relentless ever since joining the union in 1999. He made this statement while speaking at the Workshop on Cambodia’s Contributions to ASEAN Since Assuming Membership in 1999, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, 31 May.

During his speech, Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn stated that “Cambodia is motivated and inspired to work harder to advance ASEAN Community building,” and highlighted the theme of “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together,” which emphasizes ASEAN centrality, unity and solidarity, and was set by Cambodia upon assuming the ASEAN Chairmanship in January 2022. He said it is crucial for ASEAN to consolidate its spirit of “Togetherness” in order to be effective in tackling common pressing challenges to ensure regional and global peace, security, and sustainable development.

Speaking more on Cambodia’s membership of ASEAN, the Deputy Prime Minister described how Cambodia was the 10th and last member to join the ASEAN family back in 1999, marking one of the greatest foreign policy achievements in terms of regional integration and multilateralism for Cambodia. He further highlighted all the major achievements made during the two prior times Cambodia assumed the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2002 and 2012.

The first time assuming the Chairmanship in 2002, just three years after joining the Association, Cambodia contributed to easing tensions in the South China Sea with the successful conclusion of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) document, and also hosted the first ASEAN-India Summit to strengthen ASEAN-India Cooperation.

The second time assuming the Chairmanship in 2012, Cambodia successfully hosted the 20th and 21st ASEAN Summits in Phnom Penh, and was able to deliver even more achievements, such as the accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) by the UK, the EU, and Brazil, the first country in Latin America to do so; the launch of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest trade pact, which entered into force that year; and the adoption of the Joint Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the DOC, reaffirming the joint commitment between ASEAN and China to promote peace, stability, mutual trust and confidence through the further implementation of the DOC.

Regarding this year’s Chairmanship, Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn outlined how several ASEAN-related meetings and activities have already been successfully convened under all three ASEAN Community pillars, even despite the risk of Covid-19, including the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat held in February. He further underscored how Cambodia’s chairmanship was kick-started with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Myanmar on 7-8 January, which helped pave the way for the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus (5PC), the Deputy Prime Minister’s own first visit to Myanmar as the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair in March, and the subsequent convening of the Consultative Meeting on ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar earlier in May.

He also highlighted the ASEAN-U.S. Special Summit held in Washington D.C., jointly co-chaired by the ASEAN Chair, Prime Minister Hun Sen, and US President Joe Biden. He said this was a milestone event that marked 45 years of ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Relations and helped chart the future direction of ASEAN-U.S. partnership, including the upgrade of relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (the highest level partnership under the ASEAN framework) at the 10th ASEAN-U.S. Summit to be held in November 2022.

Finally, the Deputy Prime Minister announced Cambodia’s plans to hold two major side events, the 2nd ASEAN Global Dialogue on Post-Covid-19 Recovery, and the 2nd ASEAN Women Leaders’ Summit. He said that with seven more months to go, “Cambodia will continue to draw on the ASEAN spirit of “Togetherness” to consolidate our efforts, internally within ASEAN as well as with ASEAN Partners, to achieve our goals of building a resilient ASEAN Community, in line with the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.”

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