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'Unsung' Community to open office

'Unsung' Community to open office

T HE EC is to open an office Phnom Penh in the next few months said Ambassador

Gywn Morgan, who added that the Community's role in the reconstruction of

Cambodia has been relatively unsung.

Morgan said: "The EC envisages a

modest office initially, with four or five people. It's responsibilities will be

to monitor and administer projects funded by the EC."

The Ambassador

visited Cambodia before the New Year to brief Prince Ranariddh on the priorities

of the EC's commitments to Cambodia and to listen to his advice and ideas.

Morgan also met Foreign Minister Prince Sirrivudh.

Morgan insisted that

most were unaware of the size of EC commitments.

He said: "The role that

the European Community has played in Cambodia since the elections has been a

major but perhaps a discrete one."

Morgan said that there was confusion

among the donor nations at Tokyo and within the World Bank on the total amount

of the contribution by EC nations.

"But if we combine the commitments

and disbursements of the European nations and those separate financial

commitments by the EC itself, we are the largest aid donor to Cambodia since the

conclusion of the Paris peace agreements in October 1991," he said.

The

European Community and its Member States have contributed US $230 million, or 26

percent of the pledges made at the Tokyo conference in June 1992 for the

reconstruction of Cambodia," said Gustaaf A. Tasseron, Coordinator of the EC's

Cambodia programs.

Morgan said, "The first priority for the EC among

seven areas of cooperation is institutional support. That is the first and most

urgent part of our package here."

"The second priority in the immediate

short-term is the help that we shall be giving to education in the primary

school sector. We will spend approximately $16 million [in this area] over the

next three years."

"We will have teams of experts, here in the next month

to look at the outline of these two programs and we will commit up to $60

million to those programs very shortly. The other areas of cooperation include

rural development, human rights, and environmental."

Morgan said that the

most urgent studies done for the EC have been in rural development. Experts have

returned for a second time to Cambodia. "We intend to spread our efforts across

two to three provinces and link it to de-mining."

Morgan pointed to

humanitarian concerns, historical links and the promise that Cambodia holds as a

trading partner, as reasons for the EC's interest.

Tasseron explained:

"To date, among other things, we have dug 253 wells, drilled 46 bore-holes,

completed 48 water ponds, and built or repaired 32 school buildings. All this

was accomplished between May 1992 and May 1993."

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