Two German parliamentarians will pay an official visit to Cambodia in mid-February. Their mission aims to gain insights into Southeast Asia’s political, social and economic landscape, while deepening diplomatic ties with the Kingdom.
Scheduled for a one-week visit to both Cambodia and Thailand, Johannes Steiniger and Stefan Heck, both members of Germany’s largest opposition party, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), will be in Cambodia from February 12-14, according to a February 7 press release from German political think tank the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS).
The statement explained that the visit is in part a strategic response to China’s increasing political and economic influence in the region.
The German side intends to engage with key Cambodian and Thai political figures, reaffirming the European power’s commitment to maintaining and enhancing relations across Southeast Asia.
During their stay in Cambodia, the two lawmakers are slated to meet with senior government officials, as well as policymakers and dignitaries from various institutions, including the National Assembly, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, and the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).
KAS added that the diplomatic mission aligns with German foreign policy objectives and reflect a deepening interest in Southeast Asian politics and economics. This new initiative is expected to herald a new era of cooperation, particularly in trade, technology and innovation, while consolidating Germany’s role as a significant player in international diplomacy.
Heck expressed his belief that his visit will reinforce diplomatic ties and collaboration with both countries, advancing Germany’s interests on the global stage.
“Direct exchanges with local actors provides an opportunity to find new ways for cooperation and economic partnerships that will contribute to the German economy, as well as the sustainable development for the countries we visit,” he said.
Steiniger explained that this is an opportunity to learn more about the real political, social and economic aspects of Southeast Asia.
“This in-depth knowledge is fundamental to the implementation of Germany’s foreign policy,” he added.
Government spokesman Pen Bona said the seventh-mandate government welcomes the forthcoming visit of the German lawmakers.
He noted that as a developing nation with the potential for rapid poverty reduction, Cambodia draws interest from many politicians and businesspeople worldwide, particularly amidst the backdrop of a new government.
“Cambodia maintains a non-discriminatory foreign policy that treats all nations equally, irrespective of size. For Germany, a significant and influential European nation, the relationship holds importance. Historically, the two countries have enjoyed positive relations,” he added.
Bona explained that the new government values good relations with European countries, citing Prime Minister Hun Manet’s recent visit to France as a case in point.
Seng Vanly, a lecturer of international relations and regional political observer, said the visit of the German lawmakers underscores the attention paid by German politicians, both in government and opposition, to ASEAN opportunities.
He noted that Germany is currently intensifying its focus on relations with the Indo-Pacific region, in light of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
“Germany currently leads the EU in foreign policy initiatives. The EU aims to enhance its diplomatic engagements worldwide, with a particular emphasis on fostering connections in the Indo-Pacific region, which is centred around ASEAN. This visit seeks to gain insights into ASEAN, with a specific focus on Thailand and Cambodia, an emerging market,” he said.
He noted that Germany is forging a diplomatic alliance with the new Cambodian government, by adopting a more conciliatory political stance.
He added that during this visit, the German delegation will assess the Kingdom’s political and socio-economic landscape.
Steiniger has served as a member of the German parliament since 2013, focusing on financial affairs and advocating for fiscal policies that promote intergenerational justice, as well as supporting German employees and entrepreneurs.
Heck has been a member of the body since 2013, concentrating on election oversight, legal affairs, consumer protection and internal affairs. He previously served as secretary of state in the Hessian State Ministry of Interior and Sports.