The following are selected questions and answer in the press briefing and conference after the 40th and 41st ASEAN summits and related meetings
CC Times (The Cambodia China Times): […] (Among other questions) why did ASEAN achieve so many memberships – up to seven countries – as high contracting parties to TAC? […] Does receiving Ukraine now affect ASEAN-Russia relations? […]
Answer: Thank you. This year, we see it as the first year that ASEAN has received the largest number of signatories to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC). There are two main reasons, in my opinion. The first is our external partners see a clearer picture of the role and importance of connecting with ASEAN. ASEAN itself has been strengthening its role, thus attracted the interest of countries outside the region, to participate in the framework of treaty of friendship and cooperation, with aims to participate in sectoral dialogue partners, to enhance relations, strategic partnership or to work with ASEAN. The second factor is the fact that for the past three years, all countries have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Meetings in Vietnam and Brunei did not take place directly. We are able to do it this time in Cambodia. Meeting (face to face) after a two-year absence allowed these countries (which did not sign the contract) the opportunity to sign in Phnom Penh […]
To the question of whether it would anger Russia to allow Ukraine as a high contracting party to TAC. (Please be informed that) ASEAN is not a nephew of anyone. As President JOKO WIDODO of Indonesia announced during his acceptance of the ASEAN presidency. ASEAN does not care who is angry with whom. We accept everyone equally. We are in the middle. We are not an ASEAN just to serve Russia or an ASEAN just to serve Ukraine. We are the ASEAN to communicate with all partners who want to communicate with us. I do not think Russia has any reason to oppose ASEAN’s acceptance of Ukraine as a signatory to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia […]
BTV: […] (Among other questions) the head of the United Nations, His Excellency Antonio Guterres, expressed concern about the division of the world into two parts, one ruled by the United States and the other controlled by China. How will ASEAN continue to strengthen its position to resist the power struggles of the world powers, or simply the division of the world powers? And (2) Some people have linked Cambodia to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying that […] Cambodia and other members may send aid to Ukraine, they also want to refer to military aid […] while Cambodia is considering to send demining forces to help Ukraine. How can Samdech Techo respond and confirm?
Answer: Thank you for this question. When it comes to geopolitics, people often say that the world is divided. In the past, it was said that the world is divided between the United States (on one side) and the Soviet Union (on the other) in the Cold War era. Now they start talking about China on one side, and the United States on the other. For ASEAN or for Cambodia, we do not require anyone to be selected. We do not need to choose China and leave the United States or choose the United States and leave China. Likewise, both the United States and China have told us that there is no requirement to choose between the United States and China. We have confirmed our position. What has been happening in Phnom Penh these days has made it clear whether China and/or the United States come to ASEAN or ASEAN to the United States and China. We have programs like last May ASEAN to the US for special meetings there. Sometimes we go to China/Japan/India/Australia, it is very common.
At this point, the attraction associated with geopolitical issues is obvious, but it is in the attitude of each country and each group. If we talk about ASEAN, it is clear that ASEAN has its own neutrality, as we assert that we are not anyone’s nephews. What is stated in Phnom Penh is clear that our external partners, whether rich or poor, small or large, must come to ASEAN territory. Cambodia is small and poor, but we have the ability to invite the President/Prime Minister of rich countries to give a speech according to our arrangements. This is the independence of ASEAN, not biased towards China or US.
Regarding Ukraine, Cambodia has no weapons and/or ammunition, and no intention to send weapons and/or ammunition to any country. We do not pour gasoline on the fire. This is our principle. Even though we have weapons and/or ammunition, we do not send them to any country because we do not encourage fighting. What we are striving for is a humanitarian goal. We used to be victims of landmines. Thirty years on, since 1992, we have been operating demining operations. We have not yet removed all mines yet. We thought, and discussed with our partner – Japan, to help train Ukrainian deminers so that they can clear mines on Ukrainian territory. It is true that the war will be over, but the “hidden assassins” are still there. The case in our country, the war ended in 1998, but so far, the mines are not over. Although the number of deaths/injuries (due to landmines) has dropped, it is not over. We are aiming to achieve this (zero mines) by 2025 […]
I met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I suggested to him that when implementing this sustainable development goal, the issue of mines should be included. When they were (setting) the Millennium Development Goals, they did not include efforts about clearing mines. When it comes to setting sustainable development goals, there are nothing said about mines. The United Nations has acknowledged the mine problem. He accepted the recommendation to look into landmine issues […] war broke out in many parts of the world, because of which mines must be used. Sometimes, ammunitions used do not explode. We then have to destroy them. This does not mean that we provide military assistance to Ukraine. This is part of the humanitarian work to save lives in connection with the dangers of landmines and unexploded ordnance […]
Fresh News: […] (Among other questions) Some countries appeared to wish for ASEAN to take stronger action against Myanmar it its efforts to resolve the deadlock situation in Myanmar […] May I ask Samdech to help clarify why Cambodia needs to continue to use the cold-hearted policy of Myanmar? […] and, various international forums have shown great sympathy for Ukraine, and not for Russia, etc. […] but there does not seem to have initiative to find a solution to end the conflict between the two countries yet. Have Samdech, at the East Asia Summit as well as other summits, put any new initiatives aiming for a solution to this conflict?
Answer: […] on issue of Myanmar. May I ask who is hot and who is cold. In fact, all the measures taken by ASEAN member countries as well as external partners are aiming at getting Myanmar back to normal as soon as possible. It was in the interests of Myanmar. Let us ask this question, if you want a hot action, what are you going to do? It is a question for those who wanted to carry out a hot measure. Do they go fight Myanmar? And if it is a cold measure, can you comfort Myanmar with a piece of candy […] hence, neither hot action nor cold one is possible. The problem is how to find a way to get the different factions there to get together as a group to work out a solution […]
I have met this kind of situation. In the past, I was insulted by some that once the Vietnamese army withdrew from Cambodia, the Hun Sen’s government would be blown off like a sheet of paper. In the end, the Hun Sen’s government did not even shake and stretched its coverage in the country to an extent that concerned parties had had to work with Hun Sen. Cambodia has experienced this for itself. No hot action would work. It is better to keep the door open than to close it. This is Hun Sen’s diplomatic experience. Do not close the door at all. Leave the possibility to have a conversation. When? Which way? What level? Where? is another story […]
About whether there are initiatives for the situation in Ukraine. In my meeting with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, I suggested to him that, since the Russian Foreign Minister is going to be in Cambodia, he should consider a talk with him. Whether there will or will not be any positive outcomes, that will be a gesture of constructive dialogue. It is unfortunate that neither Russia nor Ukraine took that initiative in Phnom Penh. From the dialogue initiative point, we do not see any specific signs regarding peace process. Coming were the efforts to find solutions to transporting grain and fertilizers. The Secretary-General of the United Nations and I are also discussing this issue of the Black Sea strait as it is relating to the transportation of grain, wheat, and fertilizers […]
PNN TV: […] (Among other questions) the presence of Mr. Joe Biden on Cambodian territory seems to have brought closeness […] how can you confirm the meaning of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and the United States at this time? […]
Answer: Thank you very much for this question. First, I want to talk a little bit about Cambodia-US relations. The Royal Government has never said that the relations between Cambodia and the United States are bad. The rumor that the United States does not need a Cambodian leader comes from the words of a group of people who do not like us. Take for instance, when we had to postpone the US-ASEAN summit in Washington for a few days, they blamed it all on Hun Sen that the United States postponed the summit […] in the end, it is still Hun Sen who was leading the ASEAN countries. We went there to co-chair the meeting. I also heard what you just said […] in Washington, D.C., when walking to the meeting room, I was behind others, and Joe Biden was in my pace. Some say that I walked over so to be able to be with Joe Biden […]
Now it is obvious, is it not, that Joe Biden, came to Phnom Penh. I did not go to him. He came to me. This is a very common practice between country leaders. If you do not know how to be a leader of the country, do not judge the leader of the country. Making low judgment devalues yourself. Leaders are polite. They have etiquette and moral. No matter how inconsistent the points, they behave in a constructive conversation […] between leaders and leaders, no matter what, they have good manners and manage their relationships […] In the United States, they picked me up with their car and flew the Cambodian flag along with the American flag. It is true that the United States does not use our cars because they have a high standard of protection, but they flew the Cambodian flag and the US flag together too. This is the morality of respect, not just a practice between the United States and Cambodia, but all countries […]
EFC News: […] (Among other questions) can you tell us if you are satisfied with this ASEAN chairmanship in 2022, compared to the one in 2012?
Answer: I am satisfied with every time that Cambodia chairs the ASEAN Summits and related summits. I am saying this because every time we have different circumstances and issues. I should have said something to highlight this a bit. In 2002, what happened in Phnom Penh was the signing of the DOC, the Declaration on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. That was the time when we had India’s annual dialogue. Cambodia is honored to host India at the annual ASEAN-India Meeting. It has been 20 years now. In 2012, although there were some issues and I must affirm that they were not Cambodia’s fault, you may remember that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) was announced in Phnom Penh. RCEP begins the negotiations in Phnom Penh and I announced it myself. That is the point at which I enjoy my role as chair of ASEAN.
The ASEAN chairmanship in 2022, or 10 years after the RCEP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement came into force. This time, we have the 11th membership of Timor-Leste, plus the promotion of a comprehensive strategic partnership with the United States and India, and the participation of seven high contracting parties in the signing of seven peace, friendship and cooperation agreements with Southeast Asia, and many more. Therefore, I have my satisfaction with all three Cambodian chairmanships of ASEAN (in 2002, 2012 and 2022). The point to make here only the fact that we have different stages, different times, and different stories to deal with. We have fulfilled our duties as responsible chair […]
Kampuchea Thmey Newspaper: (Among other questions) would Deputy Prime Minister His Excellency Prak Sokhon, Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair, visit Myanmar again […] before the end of this term […] it has been suggested that Myanmar wants to suspend its seat due to non-compliance with ASEAN’s five-point unanimous agreement. Is it possible? Is there any way for ASEAN to amend the ASEAN Charter to be able to withdraw Myanmar’s membership?
Answer: Thank you for this question. With regard to whether the special envoy of the ASEAN chair go or not to Myanmar, we are looking for the reaction from Myanmar. We still have more than a month left. We have to decide whether to go or not. I have not yet confirmed whether to go or not […] the second point about whether is it possible to remove Myanmar as you said. The ASEAN Charter does not require the expulsion of anyone. ASEAN unity is within the framework of the charter. The charter does not provide for expulsion. We do not overdo it. Now we continue to invite Myanmar on a non-political level […] we continue to invite Myanmar to various institutions that have meetings. We also send a message to Myanmar that if you do not comply, your rights as an institutional representative will be reviewed. This is a confirmation from Phnom Penh to Nay Pyi Taw. But the right to evict is not there. It is Myanmar’s seat. Myanmar does not give up its rights. We invited non-political representatives, but they did not send ones. We also do not know what to do. The only one way is to leave the seat and the flag there, but there is no one to sit […]
Thmey Thmey: […] (Among other questions) would the establishment of a comprehensive strategic dialogue partnership between India and the United States […] be the ASEAN’s strategy to neutralize Chinese influence in the region? […] (3) about the US statement calling for Cambodia to open up to political freedom next year, as well as the release of Seng Theary?
Answer: What is the effect of increasing all-round partnership with the United States and India with China? Let me share with you that China gained the status of a comprehensive strategic partner last year […] we give the partnership to both China and Australia at the same time. Now we give it to the US and India at the same time. There is nothing a matter about it. The profitable party from this is ASEAN. In other words, ASEAN is the center of attention, turning to the United States, India, China, Australia as their all-round strategic partners. It is not a matter of catching China and pushing the US away or catching America and pushing China out. Can you Cambodian journalists get rid of the thoughts in your minds […]
Regarding the US statement, you go and ask the US yourself. I did not answer because I did not know what the United States was talking about. Joe Biden did not talk much to me […] because I only do my country work. He talked about this/that during the conversation, and he also talked about the election process next year. I explained to him about the election process and I predict what the election next year will be. In addition, we are talking about this/that, […] Joe Biden is not talking about internal issues in Cambodia, but about global issues. I just want to confirm.
Koh Santepheap newspaper: […] (Among other questions) some people say that the Sultan (of Brunei) seems to copy Samdech Techo’s way to bring along HE Hun Manet, as well as the granddaughter on the international stage. What does the prince think about the mention?
Answer: Thank you […] regarding the Sultan’s son, let me tell you that it is not the same as the case of me and Manet. The Sultan has already chosen a crown prince. Brunei has appointed an heir to the throne. The crown prince stays and rules the country in the absence of the Sultan. As for this prince, he always goes with him everywhere, and this time he came to Cambodia […] I think this is a way to make travel easier for the Sultan. Having a son to travel with is good for him.
Radio France International: […] (Among other questions) I would like to know what progress in the international arena, especially the ASEAN forum, you would like to see when Cambodia comes to its 4th rotating chair; and what do you say about the visiting ship of Japanese Self-Defense Forces to Cambodia and the Ream Naval base […]
Answer: Well, the fourth meeting. If I wanted to, I would still be alive in another 10 years […] I know that some have cursed me to death. However, I would remind them that they can bet a race in cars, cows, horses, buffaloes, elephants, but they cannot race with karma. You understand clearly. You can race with me on this / that, but race with fate, which has made me the longest-serving prime minister in the world […] I have no ambition to hold the hammer for the fourth time. I will choose the right time to leave. This Peace Palace is not only for Hun Sen to sit, but for others too […]
As for when Cambodia comes to its chair for the fourth time, I would think that a lot will have been resolved then, including the DOC on the South China Sea. This is my prediction. The situation of geopolitical relations can also be considered calmer than now. Partners within our regional framework will operate in the image of full and well-connected economic cooperation and integration. According to the master plan, there could be connections from Turkey or at least from India to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Better economic integration, especially with the entry into force of the RCEP, will improve the lives of Cambodians. Therefore, the story that happened in 2002, 2012, 2022 that Hun Sen faced, maybe after Hun Sen, the one in power will not encounter because the situation has improved.
The situation is not going to be bad, just you wait and see. They never work on creating a backward situation. In the meeting yesterday, the US President Joe Biden shared with us and I thanked him on behalf of ASEAN, that in the next few days he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, or maybe even tomorrow. These points govern the relationship between the United States and China. If they both manage good relations with each other, it will create a favorable environment for our ASEAN countries. ASEAN benefits from all directions – the United States, China, Europe and other parts of the world. That is why Cambodia is satisfied with its participation in the ASEAN framework […]
Regarding Japanese ships. This is not a new story. We have been discussing since I went to Tokyo to attend the funeral of the late Shinzo Abe. The Japanese ship will call the port of Sihanoukville again. It will be a normal visit. This year is the Cambodian-Japanese friendship and cooperation in the field of defense due to the 30th anniversary of Japan’s PKO coming to Cambodia. Therefore, we are cooperating to ensure that Japanese naval vessels enter our waters as usual. We do not just welcome Japan. Whoever want to do so, please do not hesitate to just raise your hand. I told the Prime Minister of New Zealand that if you want to come in, we do not say no. If any country want to come and do exercises with us on disaster management or counter-terrorism, we will say yes. We do not have to deal with anyone alone. This is open for relationship […]./.