A senior official of the Delegation of European Union to Cambodia has denied a statement regarding its stance on last year’s national election as claimed by Kong Korm, a former CNRP top advisor, in a Facebook post.
Mr Korm, Khmer Will Party honorary president, said during a Europe Day event on May 9 in Phnom Penh that outgoing EU Ambassador George Edgar had said that although the elections did not meet full standards, many countries recognised and continued relations with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
He claimed that Mr Edgar had also said that some former CNRP members were using the Everything-but-arms issues for their own political interests.
The EU in February launched its six month-long period of intensive monitoring and engagement period that could lead to the temporary suspension of Cambodia’s preferential access to the market under the EBA trade scheme.
In an email to Khmer Times on Thursday, Simone Pieri, chargé d’affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia, denied the statement made by Mr Korm.
“Ambassador George Edgar made no statement on the lines quoted in your message,” Mr Pieri said referring to Mr Korm’s statement on his official Facebook page. “In relation to the 2018 election, there has been no change in the EU’s view.”
“As far as EBA is concerned, discussions are ongoing. The Cambodian authorities are well aware of EU concerns,” he added.
Mr Pieri also pointed to a statement made by the EU spokesperson in July last year on the general election in Cambodia.
In the statement, the EU said the “lack of genuine electoral competition and the absence of an inclusive political process mean that the July 29 election is not representative of the democratic will of the Cambodian electorate and therefore its outcome lacks credibility.”
“The European Union expects the Cambodian authorities to restore democracy, to engage in dialogue with the opposition, and to create conditions conducive to free political debate and competition, in which the media and civil society, including human rights and labour rights defenders, can freely exercise their rights without undue restrictions,” it added.
In March, Mr Hun Sen responded to calls from the EU and United States for Cambodia to respect democracy and human rights by saying that the Kingdom has its own laws, noting that “you eat bread and I eat rice”.
“Your concern is not in line with us, neither does it require to be mentioned in Cambodian laws,” he said. “Cambodia has its own laws different from other countries. You recognise this for other countries, why don’t you recognise this for Cambodia?”
In a speech during the KWP’s first anniversary celebration in Phnom Penh, Mr Korm yesterday continued to criticise the CNRP and its acting president Sam Rainsy.
He said the opposition leader attempted to “kill democracy” in Cambodia during his attempts to disrupt the July 2018 election.
“The former CNRP tried to prevent and destroy the 2018 election, but they failed,” he said. “In 2018, they held a demonstration in South Korea calling for the rejection of the election result and recently they again demonstrated in South Korea hoping to disrupt this year’s Council Elections.”