Charge d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia Rafael Dochao Moreno: Cambodia Is on the Reform Track, and Reforms Are Crucial – Tuesday, 3.2.2009

Posted on 4 February 2009. Filed under: Week 598 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 598

“Phnom Penh: The cooperation between the Cambodian government and the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia was broadened towards civil society, and the European Commission is an important development partner of the government. A reporter of Rasmei Kampuchea, Mr. Yin Leangkong, had an interview with the Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia, Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno, to analyze these relations.

Rasmei Kampuchea: What improvements regarding relations of cooperation between the European Union [a political and economic union of 27 member states] and the Cambodian government do you see in recent years?

The Chargé d’Affaires: The relations between the European Union and the Cambodian government grew very well during these recent years, while we had significant economic and technical cooperation with the Cambodian government. Last year, we sent an observer mission to Cambodia in order to participate in observing the elections. Through the election observer mission of the European Union, we created some recommendations from the observations, and those recommendations were supported not only by civil society, but also by the Cambodian government and different opposition parties. Therefore, both groups – civil society and the Cambodian government – supported the position of the European Union regarding the elections.

Rasmei Kampuchea: What problems do you consider to be challenges between the European Commission and the Cambodian government?

The Chargé d’Affaires: Being partners, we always worked together and discussed with one another, and also we provided aid to the Cambodian government. Actually, we are not always satisfied with all what the Cambodian government has done, but also, we do not think that all what the government has done is mostly wrong. Our position is to offer support to reform programs of the Royal Government of Cambodia. We also follow with interest the slow reform progress, which has not accomplished what we had hoped for, for example, the adoption of an anti-corruption law is very slow. But we know also that the Royal Government of Cambodia is making efforts to encourage this work to move ahead.

“The European Union is also concerned about the forced evictions by using such force. Like the recent Dey Krahom case, we discussed it also with the Royal Government of Cambodia to find solutions for this problem, and we will continue to meet and discuss eviction problems, and the guarantee of the rule of law in Cambodia.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Do you consider such evictions to be part of corruption in the government?

The Chargé d’Affaires: It is a difficult problem, and I cannot answer this question, but I would like to emphasize that what we want to see is the rule of law. It is known that the European Commission has assisted Cambodia in many different sectors. For instance, we help the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s proceedings, seeing that international standards of law have been established. We support also good governance in different sectors in Cambodia.

“Regarding the evictions, I am really concerned about the use of force in evictions, and we are concerned that there has to be support for the rule of law, leading to justice and fairness in compensations for the various families living there.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Together with the progress of this cooperation, the relations have also faced problems. What do you think can be done to make the cooperation between both sides smooth?

The Chargé d’Affaires: What is important is that we focus on bilateral discussions between the European Union and the Royal Government of Cambodia. I would like to mention three significant events: First, last November, we had regular and official discussions about human rights, good governance, and democracy. Second, we will discuss cooperation between the European Union and the Royal Government of Cambodia, to know what factors need to be improved. Third, we will provide support for different sectors through this cooperation, such as human rights, rural development, health, and education. In March, there will be a joint meeting between Cambodia and the European Commission, in order to further strengthen partnership, and make it smoother – which are the points for our eventual discussions.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Regarding the progress of democracy in Cambodia, do you think that Cambodia is on the right track?

The Chargé d’Affaires: Cambodia is on a track of reforms, and theses reforms are crucial. I would like to refer to the experience of Spain [the home country of Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno]. From 1939 to 1975, this country was under the control of the Dictator Franco, and during that period, the court system was very corrupt. However, after he died, Spain undertook reforms towards a just court system and a new administration system, but it took many years to improve the situation. Likewise, Cambodia needs much time to achieve these high goals, and it might take a generation.

“It is important that these reforms are started from the schools. Teachers need better salaries, and judges have to earn higher salaries in order to crack down on corruption, and all of us have to start working together to weed out corruption.

Rasmei Kampuchea: According to your point of view, is Cambodia already on the right track towards those positive goals?

The Chargé d’Affaires: We have sponsored and supported by funding programs for education through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. We do not grant monetary resources to build schools, but we support, both with funds and training, to expand the capability of education officials, like through accounting skill, financial management, and audits. As for the education sector in Cambodia, I can say that it is on the right track, and that is why we continue supporting this sector.

Rasmei Kampuchea: In May, Cambodia will hold provincial and city council elections. Has the Cambodian government requested funds or experts from the European Union?

The Chargé d’Affaires: We have not received any request from the government, asking for funds for the elections. But after the general elections in July 2008, we provided two experts to help the National Election Committee technically – one person helps with the legal section, and the other one helps with the publishing system. This support is provided for six to eight months. As we knew, there is much work that we have to do as stated in reports of the election observer missions, in order to assure independence and trustworthiness of the National Election Committee.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Some people think that the provincial and city elections are useless. What do you think? Are they useful for the progress of democracy or not?

The Chargé d’Affaires: I cannot say whether they are useful or not, but what I think is that the European Union provides support for decentralization and deconcentration. Therefore, any work contributing to encourage decentralization and deconcentration is good.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Relating to Siem Reap Airlines which has been black-listed in the European Union since late 2008, what is its process?

The Chargé d’Affaires: We got a report in late 2008 from a direct assessment by a group of the International Civil Aviation Organization that came to assess different safety systems, and they released a report saying that the safety systems in Cambodia need improvements. The report was sent also to the Royal Government of Cambodia for consideration. In November 2008, the European Union held a meeting with the Cambodian government to hear responses to the problems found. According to reports from member countries, the European Union decided to put Siem Reap Airlines on a blacklist, so that flights are not allowed to Europe, and this company had to halt their activities until now. What we want to see is that there should be assurances from the Royal Government of Cambodia and from Siem Reap Airlines about their safety and security procedures, before we remove it from the blacklist.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4811, 3.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #111, 3-4.2.2009

  • An Economist [the director of the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, Mr. Chan Sophal]: The Government Has to Prepare More Money to Encourage Local Products and to Export Goods
  • A Clay Grinding Machine Seizes [left] Hand of a Woman [a kiln worker – Siem Reap]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #333, 3.2.2009

  • Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party Form Alliance to Compete Together for Seats in the Future
  • 25 Houses Behind the Tuol Sangkae Electricity Power Station Were Destroyed [by fire – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1863, 3.2.2009

  • Construction of the Kbal Thnol Elevated Road Will Begin in April, at a Cost of US$6 Million [Phnom Penh]
  • 20 Trainees Go to Japan to Study Human Resources Development in the Health Sector and in Medical Treatment Services
  • Mr. Obama Will Start Direct Negotiations with Iran and Syria

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #195, 3.2.2009

  • The National Bank Decreases the Bank Reserve Rate [from 16% to 12%] for Private Banks so that They Can Provide Loans to Reinvest in Real Estate

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #668, 3.2.2009

  • German [parliament] Delegation Wants to See Opposition Parties in Commissions of the National Assembly; [the chairperson of the parliamentary Commission on Economy, Finance, and Audits] Mr. Cheam Yeap: He Had Let Them to Join, but They Disagreed [as they have no responsibility for any commission – while the German delegation shared their experience that opposition parties also lead commissions so that all parties have to work together]
  • The 7NG Company Distributes Donations to Former Dey Krahom Residents [of 79 families who had recently agreed to receive a small house far away as compensation in Dangkao district after the eviction, and calls on the rest of 12 families to accept this also]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3677, 3.2.2009

  • 42 Court Officials [including the president of the Supreme Court, Mr. Dith Munty, and the prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ouk Vithun] and 27 Generals Are Sent into Retirement
  • An English Television [Channel 4] Reported that Many Foreign Companies Are Seeking to Acquire Land in Cambodia

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4811, 3.2.2009

  • Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia Rafael Dochao Moreno: Cambodia Is on the Reform Track, and Reforms Are Crucial
  • Cambodians Become Fisher Slaves in the Sea of Thailand [theguardianweekly global network published an article with the title Forced to Fish: Cambodia’s Sea Slaves]
  • Cambodia Will Demand Thailand in a Bangkok Meeting to Define a Specific Date to Put Preah Vihear Border Markers [though there is no mutual agreement where to put them]

  • Hungary Will Forgive 50% of the Loans given to Cambodia and Change the Remaining 50% into Grant Aid [no amounts mentioned]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asks the Federal Republic of Germany to Assist in Legal and Court Reforms
  • The Government Closes the Sexy Apsara Paintings Website

    Note: It is an unclear situation, because the government has not issued a widely and publicly known banning order, and not all Internet service providers in Cambodia are blocking the site. – See the Mirror editorial from last Sunday here.]

  • 352 Species of Animals Are Found Living in the Region where the Kirirom 3 Hydro-Electric Dam Is to Be Built [there is concern that this plan will affect the shelter of the animals living in that 1,118 hectares of forest land]
  • Pictures of Carnivore and Herbivore Dinosaurs Found on Angkor and Bayon Walls

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3479, 3.2.2009

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Government Rejects 15-Day Ultimatum [for the premier to resign] by Pro-[ousted former Thai Prime Minister]-Thaksin Red-Shirt Demonstrators

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.


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