Foreign Ministry Releases Excerpts from Cambodian FM’s Interventions in 49th AMM and Related Meetings in Laos

Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation released here yesterday the excerpts from Foreign Minister H.E. Prak Sokhonn's interventions during the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM) and related meetings in Vientiane on July 23-26, 2016 in connection with the South China Sea issue.

The full press release reads as follows:

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is pleased to publish the following excerpts of FM Prak Sokhonn's interventions made during the 49th AMM and related meetings in connection with the South China Sea issue. The intent of the Ministry is to clarity Cambodia's position vis-A�-vis the South China Sea issue, which is 'to staying neutral, to maintaining peace, security and stability in the region, preserving the relationship between ASEAN and China under their Strategic Partnership framework while upholding to the principles of ASEAN Centrality.'

At the 49th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (Retreat Session) 24 July 2016

'In the aftermath of the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling, recent development in the South China Sea is now in a worrisome trend. It is of utmost importance that we, ASEAN Member States, work with China to create an environment conducive to defuse the tension. We need to ensure that the hard earned achievements under the ASEAN-China framework of cooperation would not be undermined.

Cambodia attaches great importance to the maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region. And that is why I strongly believe that the DOC, which embodies the collective commitments of ASEAN Member States and China in building mutual trust and confidence, remains an important instrument to achieve this common goal.

To this end, Cambodia supports the issuance of the Joint Statement of Foreign Ministers of the ASEAN Member States and China on the Full and Effective Implementation of the DOC at the upcoming ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

Mr. Chairman,

It is also important that we speed up the consultation on COC. More Meetings of the ASEAN-China SOM and the Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the DOC have to be held. At the same time we need to ensure a substantive discussion on the 'List of Elements of the Possible Outline of a COC' and the 'List of Crucial and Complex Issues', both of which are vital to achieve the early conclusion of the COC.

On the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), I understand that there are divergent views, which make it difficult for us to reach a common stance on this issue.

I wish to reiterate Cambodia's position of not taking side and call upon the parties directly concerned to resolve their disputes by peaceful means through consultation and negotiations, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS. We are of the view that the issuance of the ASEAN Statement on the award is not only jeopardising ASEAN's enormous benefits gained over the years from the strategic relations with China but it would also make the situation worse.

In our view, this case is a matter of bilateral dispute between the Philippines and China, and not a dispute between ASEAN and China, and in this respect, we should not allow this issue to overshadow the entire ASEAN-China relations.'

' the Arbitral ruling is a known fact. It has already triggered much tension and what we (Cambodia) want is to not pour more fuel on the fire What we want is to avoid more tension, to avoid making the situation more dangerous.'

At the 17th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, 26 July 2016

" I'd like to stress the importance of working together to create an environment conducive to diffuse the existing tension '

At the 23rd ASEAN Regional Forum, 26 July 2016

' On the South China Sea issue:

As we have noted, the situation in the South China Sea remains an issue of utmost sensitivity in particular in the aftermath of the PCA's ruling.

As a non-claimant State, Cambodia has adopted a position of not taking side on the dispute which is a bilateral matter between the Philippines and China.

Cambodia attaches great importance to the maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region. Why? Because our country has gone through three decades of war, three decades of 'no peace, no security, no stability'. We prefer to opt for cooperation and development to achieve some level of prosperity for our people. And that is why, I believe, we need to preserve, and not to undermine, the hard-earned achievements we have made under the various cooperation frameworks with our development partners, in particular the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership.

I strongly believe that the DOC (the Declaration of Conduct of the Parties of the South China Sea) remains an important instrument to promote mutual trust and confidence and to maintain peace and stability in the region.

In this regard, Cambodia welcomes the issuance of the Joint Statement of the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and China on the full and effective implementation of the DOC yesterday that reaffirm our strong commitment to that goal and to constructively move forward on the early conclusion of the COC.

Besides, I share the view that the Hotline Communication and the CUES are practical measure that would help prevent incidents and avoid collision and miscalculation at sea.

All these are positive development and we should seek to do more.

Finally, Cambodia can only encourage the parties concerned to solve their disputes by peaceful means through consultation and negotiation, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the UNCLOS.

We are encouraged by, and we can only but praise, the recent position of the new Philippines government to have direct talks with China."

Other important facts

Aside from the above formal interventions, Cambodia has made tremendous efforts to seek compromise from all concerned parties until a mutually agreeable solution was found to issue the Joint Communique."

Source: Agence Kampuchea Press