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Europe pledges $1.8 billion in aid over next five years

The European Union will provide $1.8 billion in assistance to Cambodia over the next five years, a delegation of European ambassadors to the Kingdom announced yesterday.

The European Development Cooperation Strategy for Cambodia 2014-2018, a report released yesterday at a conference in Phnom Penh, details the collective contributions of EU member states providing assistance to Cambodia, and aims better coordinate the various programs that these funds support.

“The details of the indicated financial allocations per sector are intended to better inform government support planning on budgeting as well as to increase transparency of our aid. We feel that predictability is important for any government,” said the EU’s ambassador to Cambodia, Jean-François Cautain.

“However, the level of financial support that will be provided will reflect the level of commitment on progress achieved towards meaningful reforms by the government of Cambodia,” Cautain told an audience of EU delegates, development agencies, NGO’s and government representatives.

The Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, and the EU delegation itself will provide program funding across a range of sectors including health, education, agriculture, infrastructure and environmental conservation.

Nearly $300 million has been allocated to state administration programs, which Kristina Kuhnel, head of development cooperation section at the Swedish Embassy in Cambodia, said was aligned to the government’s own strategy for development.

“We think that improvements in governance and the respect for human rights and the principle of the rule of law are fundamental to a sustainable resilient development policy, and that goes not only for Cambodia but for any country,” she said.

France will be the largest donor country over the five years, providing close to $700 million, the majority of which is in the form of a loan. The EU delegation is providing about $590 million in grants.

While the strategy document highlights the areas for intended funding, individual programs are still to be defined and are negotiated bilaterally between donor states, officials said yesterday.

“I believe that all partners have offered clear views, comments and recommendations that not only help us to successfully launch this strategy, but also ensure that implementation can proceed smoothly and deliver the intended results,” Chhieng Yanara, minister attached to the prime minister said at the close of the presentation.

“We have all committed to translate words in this strategy document into actions,” Yanara said.

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