Outgoing European Union Ambassador George Edgar yesterday said farewell to Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn and despite the potential withdrawal of the Kingdom’s Everything-but-arms preferential trade status, he said the EU is still committed to working with the government.
The European Commission is currently reviewing the Kingdom’s EBA trade status due to perceived democratic and human rights setbacks.
The government has made moves to appease the EU and prevent the revocation of the EBA by paving the way for banned former opposition party members to return to politics following a ban implemented by the Supreme Court after the CNRP was dissolved.
However, the move was not deemed enough and the European Commission has now started an intensive monitoring and engagement process with the government.
Ministry spokesman Ket Sophann said Mr Sokhonn thanked Mr Edgar for the EU’s support of the Kingdom as it aims to eradicate poverty, implement good governance, rule of law and democracy, and uphold human rights.
When asked about the EBA issue, Mr Sophann said Mr Sokhonn will meet with an EU delegation next week to speak about the matter in detail as it completes a fact-finding mission in the Kingdom as part of the EBA review.
“The government will continue to implement its own work as stated in December,” he said. “The issue of EBA was not raised during the farewell meeting because the issue is going to be discussed on March 20.”
“The government will continue to respond to the EU as we have in the past, especially by expanding democratic space and strengthening rule of law,” Mr Sophann added. “Mr Sokhonn is ready to meet the new ambassador.”
Mr Sophann said that Mr Edgar was delighted to have worked with the Foreign Affairs Ministry. He said that Mr Edgar noticed rapid development in the Kingdom.
“Cambodia is one of the countries to have effectively implemented aid provided by the EU,” Mr Sophann said.
Video archive: Interview with the EU Ambassador on July 25, 2018