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PM: Although Vietnam Ruled in 1985, Cambodia Still Had More Decision-Making Power Than Now

PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Hun Sen has stated that while there were more than 100,000 Vietnamese soldiers in Cambodia in 1985, Vietnam still respected Cambodia's sovereign right to make its own decisions. He claimed that this situation is unlike today, where Cambodia finds itself held hostage to a series of conditions and orders from certain foreign countries and development partners.

Speaking at the launch of the fourth phase of the Public Financial Management Reform Program on Monday morning, 20 March 2023, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that in 1985, despite the significant presence of Vietnamese soldiers in Cambodia, Vietnam only stuck to its role of helping Cambodia overthrow and prevent the return of the Khmer Rouge regime and did not try and force Cambodia to make certain decisions.

He said it was one of Cambodia's greatest fortunes that Vietnam did not try to intervene in its internal affairs, thus allowing Cambodia to decide on its own economic policy.

"I met with some development partners, and I said to them: before you called me a puppet to Vietnam, but I could make more decisions back then than I can now,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen. “That is, today, if I do not follow your conditions, you will cut aid for Cambodia.”

Vietnamese troops were stationed in Cambodia between 1979 to 1989, during the war to overthrow the Khmer Rouge regime. In the same time period, Cambodia, under Prime Minister Hun Sen’s leadership, underwent significant political and economic reforms, transitioning from a socialist system to that of the free market. As a result of this successful transition and economic transformation, Cambodia became a member of the World Trade Organization even before Vietnam.


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