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New EU ambassador to take office in September

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Outgoing EU ambassador George Edgar. Hong Menea

New EU ambassador to take office in September

The new EU ambassador to Cambodia is expected to take office in Phnom Penh in early September after her nomination was announced on Tuesday in Brussels.

Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, announced the nomination of Spaniard Carmen Moreno on Tuesday.

Moreno is currently a senior official at the Asia-Europe Meeting and Special Representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan in the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Outgoing EU Ambassador George Edgar said via email on Thursday that he would leave Cambodia at the end of August.

“I expect my successor to arrive in early September. The nomination has been submitted to the Cambodian authorities for their formal agreement. Until we receive that, I cannot comment further on my successor,” he said.

Maja Kocijancic, the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, did not immediately respond to The Post’s enquires regarding the nomination.

According to her LinkedIn account, Moreno was Spanish ambassador to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia in 2012.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Ket Sophann declined to comment on Thursday.

Moreno's nomination comes at a difficult time, with the EU announcing in February that it had begun the 18-month process of withdrawing the Kingdom’s access to its preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement over “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”.

'Self-confident, mature and advanced'

Last month, a fact-finding team from the European Commission and the European External Action Service held week-long talks in Phnom Penh and said it would produce a report on its findings in August.

Cambodia would then have one month to reply.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said that in Brussels on Wednesday, it questioned the EU’s grounds for launching the EBA agreement withdrawal process.

“We stated our position on the changes made by the government and the private sector to address the EU's concerns. We also raised the impact of the possible withdrawal,” GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo said on Thursday.

He said GMAC's representatives presented their argument in an open hearing but no response was made by the EU.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said diplomats from every nation invariably embody the values of that nation.

He said the new EU ambassador would be representing a "self-confident, mature and advanced" bloc.

“Moreno would consider any eventual withdrawal of the EBA preferential tariff agreement as simply a bad patch in relations between Cambodia and the EU. Let it be gone, and continue the EU's policy towards Cambodia.

"She could assist the Kingdom by keeping and enlarging the EU market for Cambodian goods,” Mong Hay said.

More importantly, he said, Moreno could perhaps help the Kingdom to "inch its way out of China's orbit", if Cambodia ever wished to reduce its dependence on the global superpower.

“The new shape of the relationship between a giant EU and a small Cambodia – whether healthy, fruitful and beneficial or not – will not depend so much on the new ambassador as on the Cambodian government itself,” he said.

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