NA reiterates fragility of peace

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National Assembly second vice-president Khuon Sodary. National Assemly of Cambodia

A senior National Assembly representative told the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) last week that the Kingdom's hard-won peace and development remain fragile because of increased demagogic and extremist politics and interference by some other countries in its internal affairs, a National Assembly press release issued on Friday said.

National Assembly second vice-president Khuon Sodary led a senior Cambodian delegation to the 141st Assembly of the IPU and related meetings from Monday to Thursday last week in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

The press release said Sodary, who is also chairwoman of the National Assembly’s Women Parliamentarians Group, said the government and the National Assembly placed the highest value on peace, security and political stability that are a “main precondition for socio-economic development and strengthening of democracy and human rights”.

“Cambodia is implementing a flexible and pragmatic foreign policy based on the principle that internal reforms increase outside friendship when based on a spirit of independence.

“Cambodia proposes two further principles – diversification and respect for democracy – that are the main pillars of global peace and prosperity,” the press release quoted Sodary as saying.

Chheang Vun, the chairman of the National Assembly’s Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Information and Media, told reporters at a press conference on Saturday after returning from Belgrade that his delegates had lobbied almost all delegates from various countries and explained the Cambodian people’s views on stability, peace and democracy.

“Through this, it was clear that they no longer criticise us on human rights matters at the IPU, especially in relation to membership rights.

“We talked with some heads of the European Parliament and we are optimistic that, just maybe, they will hold back imposing sanctions. If there are sanctions, hopefully not all provisions of the EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’ agreement will be withdrawn,” he said.

The 141st Assembly of the IPU was attended by representatives of some 149 countries, including 70 presidents of national assemblies and 40 deputy presidents, the press release said, with 17 per cent of participants being young parliamentarians and 30 per cent women.

Kin Phea, the director-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, on Sunday said it was beneficial for the National Assembly’s concerns to be heard by IPU delegates, whether or not it had any meaningful effect.

“Others should consider these concerns too because meddling in internal affairs is not only of concern to Cambodia but also to the whole region.

“Cambodia has raised this and other countries have also experienced similar issues, but we associate interfering in our internal affairs with the fragility of peace . . . It’s time for Cambodia to secure its hard-earned peace,” he said.