Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday defended his rule against detractors who claim that the government often acts to please certain foreign powers.
The prime minister said all his decisions have been for the benefit of the Kingdom and urged countries to support Cambodia’s development into a thriving nation instead of bringing it down.
Speaking during an annual meeting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the prime minister said a sound foreign relations strategy should focus on protecting independence, territorial integrity, neutrality, peace, security, social order and unity.
Hun Sen said the world was becoming more complex, with state and non-state actors competing to control, manage and solve world affairs.
The pressures of this multi-polar world order overwhelmingly affect smaller and weaker countries such as Cambodia. Given this, a sanction-based policy to bring these nations into the fold is not the right approach, he said.
“In the case of Cambodia, the international community should help us become a stronger and more unified nation, rather than bringing us down,” he stressed.
Hun Sen said smaller and less influential countries were often victims of “inappropriate double standards regarding democracy and human rights” that are used to interfere in their internal affairs.
“They should respect our choice of political, economic and social systems. Since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, the government has always chosen what’s in the best interest of the people,” he said.
Hun Sen said the path Cambodia had chosen was to provide fundamental rights for the people, maintain peace, security and stability, and protect the Kingdom’s independence and sovereignty. This, he stressed, was the will of the Cambodian people.
“We will never surrender our independence and sovereignty, no matter who we befriend. As prime minister, I have never made any decision just to please a foreign power. I have never done anything detrimental to the national interest,” Hun Sen said.
He urged the foreign ministry to disseminate the slogan ‘Expanding our foreign friends with a strong spirit of unity’.
Hun Sen urged officials to strengthen the country’s economic diplomacy, including attracting foreign investment, diversifying export markets, increasing the number of tourists, and promoting Cambodian culture abroad.
The prime minister announced that Cambodia will keep sending forces to the UN’s peacekeeping missions around the world and that the country will open new embassies in Brazil and South Africa.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn said on Friday that Cambodia marked last year as one of the diplomatic battles and public opinion wars.
He said Cambodia has diplomatic relations with 174 countries but has only opened 63 embassies worldwide.
During the meeting, it was announced that the Kingdom will host the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) on November 16-17. Leaders from 51 countries are expected to attend the event.