I would like to wish a happy New Year, success, prosperity and good health to all readers of The Phnom Penh Post and residents of Cambodia. The passing year was symbolic in Russian-Cambodian relations which have passed the 60 year milestone in their development. They have grown mature and strong based on traditional friendship, mutual understanding and respect for interests of each other.
There were major positive changes in the cooperation this year, which some may consider as a breakthrough. It won’t be far from the point. After the first visit of the prime minister of the Russian Federation to this country in November 2015, Prime Minister Hun Sen was in Russia last May for the first time in 30 years where, besides the talks with Dmitry Medvedev, prime minister of the Russian Federation, he had a meeting with President Vladimir Putin during the jubilee Russia-ASEAN Summit in Sochi.
The additional dynamics was imparted to the parliamentary cooperation. On March 16-18, 2016, Nikolay Fedorov, first deputy chairman of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, visited Phnom Penh. On April 18-21, Heng Samrin, president of Cambodia’s National Assembly, travelled to Russia.
The intensified parliamentary exchanges have upgraded the ties between lawmakers and made it possible to outline the parameters of their interaction in future. Friendship groups were established by Russia’s Council of Federation in February and by Cambodia’s Senate in July.
The interparty dimension of our cooperation helps considerably to the development of the bilateral dialogue. The Agreement on Interaction and Cooperation between All-Russian political party “United Russia” and the Cambodian People’s Party signed in November last year in Phnom Penh laid a solid foundation for consolidating ties among the leading political forces of our countries. Of special significance was the participation of Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in the work of the 15th United Russia Congress.
The legal basis of our cooperation is being actively consolidated. This year, 13 joint documents have been signed, in particular in the field of investments, sport, media, interparty interaction, and others.
We are making efforts to realise and exploit the great potential for active development of bilateral economic cooperation. The Russian-Cambodian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation (RCIC) is playing the central role in this process. It is increasing its activities and this year it had a fruitful regular session in Phnom Penh in March. Besides, the Commission’s co-chairs had their intersessional meeting last October in Moscow. Our business communities were interacting more actively. In March Phnom Penh hosted the first session of the High-Level Working Group on Joint Investment Projects that was created by our economic agencies, and alongside that event, the first Russian business mission was organised to Cambodia which held talks here in the Chamber of Commerce. I believe that the Commission’s coordinating role in the process of intensification of trade, economic and investment ties will be growing steadily providing each year the necessary momentum to the diversification of bilateral trade, especially by increasing the share of high-tech and knowledge-intensive products.
One more positive stroke to the picture of Russian-Cambodian cooperation is added by the budding relations between the regions and provinces of our countries. Last November, Rustam Minnikhanov, president of the Republic of Tatarstan of the Russian Federation was here with a working visit during which the prospects for cooperation in various fields were discussed, including the possibility of launching joint projects in a number of provinces in Cambodia.
This year’s jubilee of the establishment of the Russian-Cambodian diplomatic relations was marked by memorable festivities that were warmly supported by Hun Sen. Besides the official reception at our embassy on May 11, where Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs minister, Prak Sokhon, was the main guest, on May 12 we took part in a symbolic ceremony of planting trees in front of the Peace Palace to commemorate the 60th anniversary. This October, under the auspices of our ministries of culture, for the first time in 30 years, the Days of Russian Culture were held here, which became a large-scale project, covering a number of concerts, workshops and a photo exhibition. In early December, a Russian film festival was organised in Phnom Penh.
Youth interaction is also progressing. This year an Agreement for Cooperation was signed between National Youth Council of Russia and Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia. The delegational exchanges are on the rise: In September 2016, Hun Many, president of UYFC participated in the 1st International Educational Youth Forum “Eurasia” in Russia’s Orenburg region. At the Cambodian initiative, Siem Reap hosted the 4th ASEAN-Russia Youth Summit last October.
This year created new opportunities for moving to a more advanced stage of the Russian-Cambodian relationship, which is becoming ever more relevant in the regional and global context. I am confident that we will fully utilise the considerable capacity of this multifaceted cooperation in the interests of our peoples and countries.
Dmitry Tsvetkov is the ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Cambodia.