EU 5 Oct notified Cambodia that it would initiate process to withdraw Cambodia’s “Everything But Arms” trade preferences due to deterioration of human rights in kingdom. Without clear improvements, Cambodia set to lose $676mn annually to EU tariffs affecting 40% of exports. Cambodia called move “an extreme injustice”. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met with PM Hun Sen 18 Oct on sidelines of Asia-Europe Summit in Brussels, raising EU concerns about rights situation in Cambodia; told reporters she did not hear anything that would avert sanctions.
The violent border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia earlier this year have challenged the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to turn its rhetoric into action, but to achieve peace and security more robust diplomacy is required to end a still unresolved conflict.
Almost a decade after the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, Cambodia is at peace and the government is at last secure enough to contemplate the trials of some Khmer Rouge leaders.
The international community collectively heaved a sigh of relief when Cambodia’s rival factions moved back from the brink of disaster and agreed to form a fresh coalition government in November 1998 after weeks of violent protests and political deadlock.
Cambodia’s electoral process re-lit the candle of democracy that had first flickered into flame with the restoration of peace in 1991, after more than two decades of strife.
Cambodia is set to take to the polls in barely six weeks time, with some fearing the elections will cement in place a de facto dictatorship and others seeing them as the last chance to ensure that the country’s fledgling democratic process remains on track.
Originally published in The Jakarta Post