Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc have ratified 84 percent of border demarcation work completed between the two nations.
The Kingdom shares a 1,270-kilometre border with Vietnam and the two nations have been demarcating it since 2006. The agreement with Vietnam comes one month after Mr Hun Sen and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith ratified 86 percent of the border between their two countries.
Mr Hun Sen met his counterpart Mr Nguyen in Hanoi on Saturday to attend the Review Conference on Cambodia-Vietnam Land Boundary Demarcation, where several documents were signed, including ones to ratify the demarcated border.
“This marks a historic milestone in the process of land border settlements between both countries,” a joint statement noted.
Mr Hun Sen at a press conference after the signing of the documents said both countries worked hard to demarcate the border.
“Today, we have achieved 84 percent demarcation. We must continue to solve the remaining 16 percent,” he said. “I would like to express my gratitude for the efforts made by both governments who sacrificed a lot to get this task completed.”
“If we cannot conclude our boundary issues, border conflicts will continue to challenge the next generation,” Mr Hun Sen added. “Peace and development across the border would not be possible.”
“I would like to call on local authorities and peoples of both nations to join together to maintain the border markers and jointly transform border areas into zones of peace, friendship, cooperation and development for the harmony of the people of our two countries,” he said.
Mr Nguyen hailed the documents as “historical agreements”, adding that Cambodia and Vietnam are close friends.
“We will build our Vietnamese and Cambodian border to be stable, peaceful and sustainably developed,” Mr Nguyen said. “For the remaining 16 percent of the border, which has yet to be demarcated, leaders of both nations will continue to work hard until the job is done. We will do this by understanding each other.”
Var Kimhong, chairman of the Cambodia Border Affairs Committee who also accompanied Mr Hun Sen in Hanoi, on Saturday said both nations will ask France to help solve issues regarding the 16 remaining percent of the border.
“The remaining 16 percent are located in Mondulkiri province’s O’Yadav and Dakdam areas, and Svay Rieng, Tboung Khmum…and Takeo provinces,” he said.
Mr Kimhong noted that it is difficult to reach an agreement with Vietnam to settle disputes in these provinces.
“There are many reasons why we cannot reach an agreement, such as technical problems, differing referenced maps and legality,” he said. “For example, in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri, there are still some disputes because we are demanding to implement the principles of an agreement signed in 2005…but we have not yet reached an agreement to solve the dispute.”
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said some people are not happy with the work the government has done to demarcate the border with Vietnam.
“They think that because we signed this agreement with Vietnam, Cambodia has lost the right to Kampuchea Krom and Koh Tral island,” Mr Phea said. “But for me, I understand that this is the appropriate time for both countries to recognise each other and have a clear border.”
“We cannot keep having an unclear border, we need to end the problem and pave the way for the next generation to make cross-border developments,” he added.
Additionally, seven other documents were signed with Vietnam during Mr Hun Sen’s visit.
Five were on customs, trade and infrastructure agreements. The other two were on the financing of Cambodia’s National Assembly’s Secretariat and the construction of a drug rehabilitation centre in Preah Sihanouk province.