Deputy Foreign Minister Wolf-gang Schallenberg, the highest ranking Austrian
official ever to visit Cambodia, said after a four day visit to Phnom Penh he
would recommend to his government that U.S. $11 million be provided to support
the rehabilitation of the Kirirom hydroelectric power station.
(the project) should go forward," Schallenberg told the Post on Jan. 24. "We
need to look at details at the technical level but I hope the project can be
realized in the near future."
The Kirirom hydro station is located near a
Royal residence in the hills west of Route 4 about two hours south of Phnom
Penh. Built by the Yugoslavs in the l960s, the 10 megawatt power station and dam
are now in a state of near-complete disrepair.
A team of Austrian
hydropower experts examined the site last November. Subject to further technical
studies and a final green light from Vienna, Schallenberg said the plant could
be producing electricity, some of which would support power needs in Phnom Penh,
Schallenberg said he felt positive about the future of Cambodia.
"I got the impression stability is good here," he said. "It seems the Khmer
Rouge problem is over emphasized in the international media."
Austrian delegation, which included Austria's Jakarta-based Ambassador to
Cambodia Herbert Kroll, also discussed with local officials ways of supporting
the development of Cambodia's tourism industry.
Amb Kroll noted that
Austria receives over 20 million foreign tourists annually and, in this light,
they might be able to provide useful advice to the Kingdom.
was also keen to point out that his visit was designed "to demonstrate
(Austria's) interest in our faraway friends." While, for obvious reasons, the
Austrian government was focusing on problems closer to home, such as the ongoing
war in Bosnia, Schallen-berg said that Austria's impending membership in the
European Union "could increase the possibility of closer relations with
countries like Cambodia."