Putin gives PM friendship medal

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Russian President Vladimir Putin (centre) shakes hands with Prime Minister Hun Sen during a meeting on the sidelines of the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in May last year. AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Prime Minister Hun Sen with the Order of Friendship on July 25 for his significant contributions towards strengthening the bonds between Russians and Cambodians, according to Russia’s embassy in Cambodia.

“On July 25, 2021, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, signed Decree No 434, awarding Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, with the Order of Friendship ...,” the Russian embassy stated on July 26.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said on July 27 that Hun Sen was honoured with the award because of the policies that he had implemented that achieved internal reforms while expanding Cambodia’s diplomatic engagement abroad.

“This is due to the splendid success of [Hun Sen] whose policies steered Cambodia towards closer ties with powerful countries such as Russia and China, as well as our neighbours around us,” he said.

He added that the award was given to Hun Sen in recognition of Cambodia’s implementation of his foreign policy that – in basic principle – brands no other country as an enemy and accepts all other countries as friends.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Koy Kuong told The Post on July 27 that the award being given to Hun Sen will further improve the bilateral relationship of the two countries and help push for more comprehensive and stronger ties between them.

“Cambodia and Russia have maintained a good relationship ever since the fall of Pol Pot’s genocidal regime. [This award] implies a strong bond between our two countries,” Kuong said.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the relationship between Cambodia and Russia has been outstanding since 1979 – except for the period from 1990-1993.

Both countries at that time were going through linked periods of fundamental transition. The break-up of the USSR precipitated Vietnam’s withdrawal from Cambodia – which then led to a period of stewardship by the UN until 1993 when the new government was formed.

“The improvement in the relationship between the two countries is due to the role of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who served as the foreign minister from 1979 to 1990,” he said.

He said that the Cambodian people had greatly benefited from the nation’s positive relationship with Russia, including the many Cambodians who were educated in Russia and then returned to become leaders holding important positions in the government.