Despite national and international changes and transformations, the bilateral relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam has stood the test time and become even more resilient in the face of geopolitical headwinds caused by volatile and ambiguous geopolitical rivalries. Indeed, our bilateral ties are deeply rooted in history and guided by the motto of “good neighborhood, traditional friendship, and comprehensive, sustainable and long-term cooperation”.

Mutual respect, mutual understanding, mutual trust, and mutual interest that the leaders of the two countries have nurtured and developed are the core principles, sustaining the bilateral friendship. Political trust and people-to-people ties are the bedrocks of the trust-based relationship which has been continuously enhanced by practical, functional cooperation.

Over the past decades, the peoples of the two countries have benefited from the fruits of the results-based collaboration across sectors and at multiple layers.

The state visit of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Cambodia on December 21-22, at the invitation of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, marks a new milestone in the bilateral relationship.

The visit sets a new direction to further deepen our cooperation, advance our common endeavours to maintain peace and stability in the region while creating more opportunities for the peoples, and re-energise the spirit of friendship and solidarity between the current and future generations of leadership from the two countries.

During the visit, seven bilateral agreements were signed covering a wide range of areas, including the Cooperation Plans 2022 between the Cambodian Ministry of Interior and the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security, and between the national defence ministries of both countries; Minutes of the 19th Meeting of the Cambodia-Vietnam Joint Commission on Economic, Cultural, Scientific and Technological Cooperation; Minutes of the Cambodia-Vietnam Joint Border Commission Meeting; Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Education Cooperation 2021-2025; MoU on completion of negotiations on Border Trade Agreement between the two countries; and Action Plan for 2022-2023 between the two nations’ justice ministries.

Cambodia and Vietnam have constantly adjusted their foreign policy strategy to meet emerging realities and challenges. Nevertheless, our core national interests and principles never change. We work closely to maintain the international peace and stability. Without peace and stability, we cannot develop our respective country.

Parliamentary cooperation between the two nations has also achieved many milestones and is gaining new momentum. Vietnam’s financial support for Cambodia to build the National Assembly’s new Secretariat office building marks a new chapter in bilateral cooperation between the two legislatives. Parliamentary diplomacy is becoming more essential in preserving peace and stability, promoting opportunities of all, and strengthen an international order based on international law.

As an old saying goes, “we can change friends but not neighbours”. Cambodia and Vietnam have been increasingly interdependent. Our security and economic interests have been increasingly intertwined. In this context, we need to support each other to protect our respective core interests. Greater interdependence leads to greater opportunities between the two countries.

Therefore, we need to relentlessly build the foundations of mutual security and prosperity, deliver more results for the people, and put trust and people at the front and centre of our relationship.

To this end, we need to invest more resources in promoting educational and cultural exchanges, especially between the young leaders of the two countries. I personally believe that people are the most important factor and actor in international relations.

Winning people’s hearts is the most important mission of diplomacy and foreign policy. Culture and people-to-people ties form the bridge of trust between our two nations.

While the current generation of leadership, especially between the leaders of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the Communist Party of Vietnam, has strong inter-personal sentiment and ties, we need to work harder to ensure that the future generation of leadership continue to maintain such substantial and meaningful traditional friendship.

We also need to ensure that the legacy of mutual support and assistance for the two countries’ historical quest for sovereignty and independence continues to be cherished and nurtured for many generations to come.

Suos Yara is a Member of Parliament of Cambodia.