T HE European Union will have spent $145 million in Cambodia between 1991-97.
"Such a figure can stun those who consider the EU would be best to
concentrate this sum on European problems," says EU Ambassador Gwyn
"But for every hundred thousand ECUs [European currency units]
spent in Cambodia, you can talk about a billion ECUs spent in eastern Europe.
There is no comparison."
He adds: "The reason why we are in Cambodia is
that we want to encourage stability and democracy in this area, which is a major
area of interest for Europe."
Asked whether the EU's aid would continue
if democracy in Cambodia was threatened, Morgan replies tersely: "Cooperation to
Cambodia is based on certain principles, which the Cambodian government
understands and we understand."
In a previous interview with the Post in
March last year, Morgan was adamant that the EU's money came with no strings
attached. He said the EU's main concern was that "the government, whatever its
pattern of governance, is capable of using our funds constructively and
After spending around $58 million between 1991-94, the EU
unveiled its $87 million PERC program. Begun last July, it is due to end in
The biggest element of the PERC is a $48 million rural
development program in Takeo, Prey Veng, Kompong Speu, Svay Rieng, Kompong Cham
and Kompong Chhnang.
"These are particularly poor provinces, while half
of the Cambodian population lives in this area," says an EU technical expert,
who asked not to be named.
"The provinces require above all a first jolt.
Hence the European Union has a very short-term program which is not a
traditional development one. It may be extended with a second, longer
The rural development program includes such things as
irrigation networks, agricultural training, cottage industries and a major
The next largest part of the PERC is a $17 million
national primary education program.
"It is a program of urgency. We want
to help the government to face a critical situation," says EU expert Gerard
The program will center on improving the materials and quality of
teaching given to primary students, and the training of their teachers via a
Renou believes the program can achieve much, but
sees two drawbacks to it.
"First, it does not include the whole normal
basic school cycle - the second half [high school] is forgotten.
there is nothing for the walls... We help both pupils and teachers, but we do
not build new schools."
Morgan says: "We do not have the money to do
everything at once."
The EU is not carrying out the two programs itself.
For the rural development program, three "bureau d'études" (private societies) -
from France, England and Holland - won tenders to implement it.
society is in charge of two of the six provinces, providing their own experts to
monitor workers, or contracting projects to NGOs or international
The education program is being run by nine experts from a
French public organization, the International Center for Educational Studies,
sub-contracted by the EU.
The EU has also budgeted $8 million for
institutional support, providing experts by request to government ministries.
One is currently in the Foreign Affairs ministry, and ten more for other
ministries are expected to arrive in Cambodia soon.
The EU is also
spending $12 million on rehabilitation activities in other sectors, and $2
million on promoting human rights.