Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh
Viet Nam and Cambodia are close neighbours and treasure solidarity and long-lasting, traditional friendship. The two countries’ people stood side by side during the two prolonged, arduous struggles against the colonialists and the fight against the imperialists and the genocide for national liberation, for the right to live in freedom, happiness and prosperous national construction.
Over the past 45 years, since the two countries officially established their diplomatic ties, the two countries’ friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance have been unceasingly strengthened and comprehensively developed, providing both many laudable achievements. The results can be attributed to the cooperative mechanisms that have been formed and played an important role in boosting bilateral ties along with senior leaders’ political resolve.
- Firstly, the Joint Committee on Economic, Cultural, Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Viet Nam and Cambodia is a mechanism of inter-governmental cooperation. This mechanism was officially established in April 1994. The Prime Ministers of the two Governments assigned their Foreign Ministers as the chairman of each sub-committee. Meetings of the Joint Committee are held annually on a rotational basis. The first session was held in Ha Noi in September 1995 under the chairmanship of former Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Foreign Minister Nguyen Manh Cam and former Cambodian Foreign Minister Ung Huot.
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh signed Minutes of the 12th session of the Viet Nam-Cambodia Joint Committee
The Viet Nam-Cambodia Joint Committee has to date conducted 12 sessions. At the sessions, both sides reviewed, evaluated the implementation of cooperation in all fields between the two countries, difficulties needing to be addressed, defined orientations, specific measures and prioritised areas for bilateral cooperation for the years to come. The important contents were put in the Minutes of Sessions and became orientations for the implementation of ministries, branches and localities. Success of the sessions has helped rapidly develop the bilateral relations in all fields in the spirit of the agreement reached by both sides’ senior leaders. Notably, at the 12th session of the Joint Committee in August, 2011, the two sides implemented specific areas of cooperation such as education, training, security-defense, economics-trade, investment, tourism, culture, science and technology that reflected the two Governments’ determination in improving Vietnamese-Cambodian cooperation in a deeper and more practical manner.
- Viet Nam and Cambodia share a common border line of 1,100km along 10 Vietnamese provinces and nine Cambodian provinces, mainly on plain, that facilitate people’s passage and exchange of goods. In order to meet the requirement on enhancement of cooperation between the border provinces, a mechanism on cooperation and development conference of border provinces was formed in 2004. Under the two sides’ agreement and at the approval of the two Prime Ministers, the cooperation and development conference of border provinces is held annually under the chairmanship of the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Minister of Interior and Viet Nam's Foreign Minister. The two sides have to date conducted seven meetings, and the latest conference was held in Ho Chi Minh City in March 2012. At the conferences, ministries, branches and border localities affirmed this was an effective cooperation mechanism, directly helping the border localities to increase mutual understanding and assistance, in line with the actual demand of each locality. In particular, this mechanism has contributed actively to maintaining stability and security-defense along the border line between the two countries.
In addition, non-border-sharing localities have implemented the cooperation model, especially cooperation between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, Hai Phong and Sihanoukville ... This is a special feature in the ties between the two countries.
Apart from the cooperation and development conferences of border provinces, the two sides also set up a number of specialised mechanisms such as the joint committee on border demarcation and marker planting and a mechanism on trade development conference of border provinces. The Joint Committee on Border Demarcation and Marker Planting is chaired by the Chairmen of the two countries’ Joint Committee and convenes annually to steer the implementation of border demarcation and manner planting in the field. Thanks to the efforts by relevant agencies, ministries, branches and localities of the two countries, more than 70 percent of work on marker planting and more than 40 percent of border demarcation in the field has to date been completed. Both sides are striving to finish the work soon under the direction of the two countries’ leaders in order to build the Viet Nam-Cambodia border line of peace, friendship, cooperation and sustainable development.
The conference on trade development of border provinces held by the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Cambodian Ministry of Trade was first held in 2008 and has taken place four times. At the conferences, both sides reviewed and assessed their cross-border trade activities and proposed programmes and projects on cooperation, and development of specific mechanisms and policies for border areas, border market systems, investment incentives and specific policies applicable to localities. Agreement reached at the conferences facilitated trade cooperation between the two countries in general and border provinces in particular, making the two countries’ border trade activities play an important role, accounting for more than 90 percent of the two-way trade.
- With the growing demand on economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries, the Viet Nam-Cambodia Conference on Cooperation and Investment has been formed with the first taking place in Ho Chi Minh City in 2009, the second in Phnom Penh in April, 2011, and the third in Kien Giang on the day that the two countries celebrated the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic ties (June 24, 2012). To express attention to the important field of cooperation, the two Prime Ministers chaired these conferences and at the events, leaders of the Governments, ministries and sectors heard reports and recommendations from businesses in order to timely provide them with guidance to help them ease and remove difficulties and barriers, satisfying requirements on rapid development of economic cooperation and trade and investment between the two countries. Since then, trade and investment between the two countries have improved significantly. In particular, two-way trade surpassed 2.8 billion USD in 2011; Viet Nam has more than 112 investment projects in Cambodia with a total registered capital of nearly 2.4 billion USD. Both sides are targeting to raise bilateral trade to 5 billion USD over the next five years.
- Cooperation between the National Assembly of Viet Nam and the Cambodian Senate and National Assembly has made an important contribution to creating favorable conditions for promotion and implementation of specific areas of cooperation between the two countries. In recent years, apart from maintaining regular exchange of delegations of parliamentary leaders, the two sides exchanged delegations of specialised committees to share experience in law making, supervision and personnel training. Active operation of the friendly parliamentarian groups of the two countries is one of vivid manifestations on the desire to increase the time-honoured, traditional friendship between the two fraternal nations.
- Along with cooperation mechanisms between the two countries’ National Assemblies, the Governments, ministries, departments and sectors have mapped out specific cooperation and implemented annually cooperation agreements. The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry and the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation also established their exchange mechanism in 2008. Over the past three years, both sides exchanged information, expertise and coordinated at multilateral forums, thus helping their staff better understand as well as facilitate the improvement of the relations between the two countries.
- Promotion of people-to-people diplomacy is also one of the cooperation mechanisms to be enhanced, and includes cooperation between the Viet Nam Fatherland Front and the Solidarity Front for Development of the Cambodian Motherland, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Cambodian Youth Organisation, the Viet Nam Women’s Union and the Cambodian Women for Peace and Development... In recent years, these organisations have participated in various practical activities contributing significantly to raising the understanding on solidarity, friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between all strata of the two countries. The Viet Nam-Cambodia Friendship Association has held practical activities, such as pilot programmes on “families of former experts, volunteer veterans sponsoring Cambodian students studying in Viet Nam”; and helping some families in difficulty whose children were volunteer soldiers...
Over the past 45 years, the relationship of “good neighborliness, traditional friendship, comprehensive cooperation, long-lasting stability” has built up a comprehensive cooperation mechanism, reflecting the importance and high level of development in the Vietnamese-Cambodian broad ranging cooperation. The mechanisms have become a model and played an important role for the development of the two countries’ friendship, cooperation, impartiality and mutual assistance in each country’s national defense, construction and development.
Celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Viet Nam-Cambodia diplomatic ties amidst new difficulties and advantages of regional and global situations, the two countries will continue coordinating to complete and promote the existing cooperation mechanisms in an effective and substantial manner in the areas of both sides’ priority and strength.
Viet Nam and Cambodia continue to provide mutual support and assistance through policies, specific measures, bringing their relations to new heights for the people’s benefit, for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world./.
Pham Binh Minh
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Chairman of the Viet Nam - Cambodia Joint Committee on Economic, Cultural, Scientific and Technological Cooperation,
Co-Chair of the Viet Nam-Cambodia Conference on Cooperation and Development of border provinces.