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‘Hungary set to support Cambodia’s EBA access’

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Two girls from the Cambodian Scouts hold portraits of Hungarian President Janos Ader and his wife Anita Herczegh on Monday as the couple meet King Norodom Sihamoni at The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

‘Hungary set to support Cambodia’s EBA access’

Hungarian President Janos Ader told Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday that his government will support Cambodia’s continued access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement.

Eang Sophalleth, the assistant to the prime minister who told reporters this, added that Ader had also hailed Cambodia’s development as a sign of a “good future”.

During a meeting with Hun Sen at the Peace Palace on Monday, Ader reiterated Hungary’s position of ensuring Cambodia maintained access to the EBA.

The Kingdom is currently going through the EU’s withdrawal procedure. The 28-member bloc will announce its decision in February.

“To further Cambodian development in the long term and for the sake of the wellbeing of its people, and social and human resources, Hungary reiterates that it will continue to support Cambodia and will request the EU to not withdraw EBA access,” Ader told Hun Sen, Sophalleth said.

Ader is paying his first visit to Cambodia and is here for four days until Wednesday.

On Monday he met with King Norodom Sihamoni and top political leaders including Prime Minister Hun Sen, the president of the National Assembly Heng Samrin and Senate president Say Chhum.

His visit came after an invitation from the King and following a recent visit by Hun Sen to Budapest.

Sophalleth said the prime minister had thanked Ader for his position and said their three recent meetings had further strengthened the relationship between the two countries after more than 60 years of bilateral ties.

He said Hun Sen had told Ader that Cambodia was enjoying peace and that its economy had been growing at more than seven per cent for the past 20 years.

Ader will send specialists from Hungary to help Cambodia in supplying clean water, waste disposal and other matters related to urban development, Sophalleth said.

He said Hungary would help introduce technology to solve the Kingdom’s waste problems.

During his meeting with Samrin, Ader said he appreciated Cambodia’s current development and its ancient culture.

He said Phnom Penh being prosperous with high-rise buildings was a sign of “a good future”, according to Samrin’s official Facebook page.

Ader also said Cambodia had an ancient and glorious culture and civilisation, with Angkor Wat, a world wonder, as proof. Angkor Wat was the premier tourism destination for Hungarians and himself.

Samrin said he had told Ader: “The presence of President [Ader] and the Hungarian delegation is historically meaningful and an honour for Cambodia.

“The National Assembly of Cambodia places a high value [on his visit] and is satisfied with the progress of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, and the achievements made by their leaders.”

He said Hungary was an old friend of Cambodia’s and had helped the Kingdom a great deal in the 1980s after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. Hungary had, in the framework of the UN, also actively contributed to the search for peace, Samrin said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the recent visits of Prime Minister Hun Sen to Hungary and Ader to the Kingdom represented the renewal of relations between two former communist countries.

He said Hungary had supported Cambodia when the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) was fighting for international recognition following its creation on January 7, 1979, after the fall of the Khmer Rouge.

“Hungary, along with the Soviet Union and its allies, had then shown strong support for the PRK,” Mong Hay said.

Sok Touch, the president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia said on Sunday that the exchange of visits between two leaders was normal. He said the trips had allowed both sides to look for new markets.

“It is also evidence to the European Union that any embargo will not be possible. We will advocate and lobby, particularly with regard to the ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme.

“Hungary will make the EU see the situation of Cambodia clearly and not just from a single viewpoint,” Touch said.

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