Ruling parties talk cooperation

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
(From left to right) Prime Minister Hun Sen meets Vietnam’s Nguyen Phu Trong and Laos’ Thongloun Sisoulith in Hanoi on Sunday. FN

Leaders of the ruling parties in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos have agreed to increase cooperation and strengthen ties for the benefit of the people of all three countries and to maintain peace and stability in the region.

The pledge came during a tripartite meeting attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen, president of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP); Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam; and Thongloun Sisoulith, General Secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.

The in-person meeting was held at the headquarters of the Communist Party of Vietnam in Hanoi on September 26. Hun Sen attended the meeting in his capacity as CPP president – the equivalent to the general secretary title held by his Vietnamese and Lao counterparts – rather than in his role as the Kingdom’s prime minister.

At the meeting, the three leaders discussed the situations in their respective countries regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, socio-economic development and political party work and related matters.

The three also exchanged ideas on past cooperative engagements and discussed the direction for future cooperation. They all agreed on the importance of their respective party organisations to ensuring continued political stability and reaffirmed their countries’ traditional bonds of neighbourly friendship and solidarity.

While in Hanoi, Hun Sen – acting as prime minister – also met with Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, as did Thongloun Sisoulit in his capacity as the president of Laos.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on September 27 that the three-party meeting was a continuation of the traditional solidarity established between the three ruling parties of their nations, linked together as neighbours and in history as former French-Indochina colonial territories.

However, Phea noted that there was one big difference between Cambodia and Vietnam or Laos in terms of their political systems in that Vietnam and Laos only had one political party with all other parties outlawed, whereas Cambodia has a multi-party democratic system with contested elections.

“From 1979 until today, the CPP has always continued the tradition of friendly party-party relations with Vietnam, as well as with Laos,” he said.

Phea said Cambodia gives high priority to its relations with neighbouring countries – including Thailand as well – and that peaceful multilateral diplomacy buttressed by free trade and private sector economic links were the main pillars of Cambodia’s regional foreign policy today.

He further noted that meetings like this were helpful because they increased trust between neighbours, which is important because in the past there have been some suggestions that Cambodia’s close relationship and growing ties with China were developed at the expense of their good relations with Vietnam.

Phea said this view was not accurate because the relationship with Vietnam has actually improved over time rather than suffering any erosion due to perceived Chinese influences here.

In March, the prime ministers of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos also agreed to strengthen cooperation and mutual support in the fight against the spread of Covid-19. The three prime ministers – Hun Sen along with Vietnam’s Chinh and Laos’ Phankham Viphavanh – also agreed to provide each other’s citizens who were abroad in each other’s countries with free Covid-19 vaccinations.