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Article

18 Dec 2019

Author:
Joshua Lipes, RFA

Cambodia: Vice-President of European Commission urges for genuine and immediate actions from Cambodian govt. to open civic space

"Top EU Envoy Urges Cambodia to Open Political Space With Two Months to Go on Trade Decision", 16 December 2019

Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union, has called on Cambodia to take “immediate action” to reinstate democratic freedoms with less than two months remaining until the bloc decides whether to suspend the Southeast Asian nation’s tariff-free access to its markets…

“The High Representative reiterated the importance of Cambodian authorities taking immediate action to open the political space in the country, to establish the necessary conditions for a credible, democratic opposition and to initiate a process of national reconciliation through genuine and inclusive dialogue,” the statement said.

Borrell’s comments followed a … preliminary report in which the EU warned that Cambodia has not taken enough measures to prevent a withdrawal of its Everything But Arms (EBA) status…

…, Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun said that withdrawal of EBA status would not only cause Cambodia to lose hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars annually, but it would shatter the country’s economy and social system.

“If the country suffers from an unemployment crisis, tax collection will fall short and the banks will run out of money, leading to the government’s inability to pay civil servants,” he said.

“Cambodia could see unrest that could seriously affect social security,” he added, urging the government to heed the EU’s demands on improving human rights and democracy.

Koul Panha, director of the advocacy group Comfrel, told … that Cambodia cannot expect to rely on China—which Hun Sen’s government has pivoted to from the West in the wake of last year’s controversial election…

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