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Francophone communities assemble, share activities

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Foreign ministry officials and members of the Francophone community pose for a group photos at the ministry on March 23. MFAIC

Francophone communities assemble, share activities

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Francophone communities in Cambodia are continuing to work together, under the umbrella of the Internation of la Francophonie (OIF).

Last week, the Council for the Promotion of Francophonie in Cambodia (CPFC) held its sixth general assembly. Foreign ministry secretary of state Chhiv Yiseang attended, in his capacity as the new OIF national correspondent. He was joined by Edgar Doerig, new representative of the OIF for Asia-Pacific, and Laurent Sermet, the director of Francophone University Agency (AUF).

Also in attendance were French-speaking representatives from embassies, higher education institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs), businesses and media outlets.

“Through the CPFC, the Cambodian Francophonie shows that it is very active and resolutely turned towards Asia-Pacific. 2023 marks the establishment of new relations and collective actions under the OIF umbrella,” said a March 28 press release from the ministry.

It added that Doerig declared his intention to promote democracies, sustainable socio-economic development, gender equality, and strengthen peace during his tenure. He had also intended to increase the capacities of CSOs.

Last week, Doerig visited Cambodia for the first time after assuming his new position. He met with key partners in existing projects, and discussed establishing ones, in line with the strategic framework of the OIF.

The press release added that Sermet noted the progress of the higher education institutions of the AUF in Cambodia, and singled out the establishment of the French-Speaking Employment Centre at Battambang University for particular praise.

“The Asia-Pacific region has become a priority area of the world in several sectors – the economy, international trade and financial flow,” it added.

Several French-speaking organisations used the assembly to discuss their Francophone activities.

The Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, alongside representatives from the National Assembly and Senate, discussed their close affinity for the French language, as did several CSOs.

The National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC) also pointed out how closely it worked with the French government.

The CPFC saluted four new members, including the Auskhmer Assocation, Yuvachun, the youth association of Preah Sihanouk hall and the Business Centre Cambodia.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on March 29 that Francophone in Cambodia is an important multilateral mechanism.

“It is a diplomatic channel which allows Cambodia to communicate with French-speaking countries and organisations throughout the world,” he said.

He explained that Cambodia was once a French protectorate, with French now considered its third language, after Khmer and English.

“The CPFC remains relevant to the world around us, so it is important for Cambodia to maintain it. Francophonie is one more way for the Kingdom to promote its role in regional and international affairs,” he said.

He added that more students should be encouraged to learn the French language, as the number of young people taking it up continues to decline.

“It is possible that the term Francophone will cease to have any meaning in Cambodia in the not too distant future. I suggest that the OIF grant scholarships for Cambodian students to pursue French studies – otherwise the language could disappear from the Kingdom in as little as two generations,” he concluded.


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