16th ADMM Chair Highlights Key Role of Military in Maintaining ASEAN Centrality, Unity, and Cooperation for Peace and Security

As the Chair of the 16th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (16th ADMM), Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the National Defence of Cambodia, this morning emphasised the significant role of the military in maintaining peace, stability and security in the bloc.

“For more than two years, all have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused disruption and damage in all areas. With this, we also see the prominent role of the armed forces in participating in combating this global epidemic,” he said in his opening remarks of the 16th ADMM.

In Cambodia, he underlined, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) has played an active and leading role in preventing the spread of the disease through large-scale vaccination campaigns.

Samdech Tea Banh said the presence of all the delegates in this meeting underscored the commitment to maintaining ASEAN centrality, unity, and cooperation for peace and security in the region.

“ASEAN must stay united to maintain its strength and resilience while the whole region is confronting the pressures of increasing geopolitical competition, transnational crime, terrorism, security and technological challenges, climate change, disasters, and epidemics. Implementing this commitment will help us move forward together towards peace, security and sustainable prosperity,” he said.

Since its inception, he continued, ADMM and the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) have played an important role in consulting and promoting the highest level of defence cooperation in the region. A key aim is to enhance mutual trust and confidence through transparency and openness. This meeting is also an effective forum for practical cooperation in the region so that any emerging challenges can be overcome. It is also important to continue the work the ASEAN nations have done together in the past to be stronger, especially as they are now able to resume meetings in person after the interruptions caused by the COVID pandemic over the last two years.

Samdech Tea Banh also make some remarks on recent developments related to regional and global security and defence issues and highlighted some historical factors that reflect the evolution of the security situation to date.

“In general, our Southeast Asian nations have suffered almost the same security consequences, from colonialism, the effects of superpower rivalry, ideological divisions, repression, civil war, disasters, and global pandemics. History has also urged us to embrace the reality of unity, strengthen solidarity and consensus, respect each other's interests, and work together to solve problems with a win-win solution. Even so, as the earth rotates, change will continue and new problems will arise. Therefore, we must all be ready to accept those obstacles at all times and try to solve them together based on the spirit of peace, co-operative, non-discrimination, cooperation, trust and respect for each other,” he added.

“Geopolitical competition remains the biggest challenge in our region. Tensions between the two powers, if not properly managed, could pose a risk and a catastrophe to regional and global peace, stability and prosperity. I believe that only the strengthening of multilateral roles, respect for international law, mutual respect, the exercise of maximum restraint and peaceful resolution of issues are the right choices to avoid any potential risks posed by this tension,” Samdech Tea Banh said.

Now, it is time to think about strengthening cooperation after the COVID-19 recovery. Recognising this need, the meeting will adopt a joint vision document, “Phnom Penh Vision on the Role of Defence Establishments in Support COVID-19 Recovery” to reaffirm the commitment and contribution of the military in this effort, he pointed out.

At the same time, the regional maritime context has evolved significantly, and these developments have also raised many challenges related to maritime security. Samdech Tea Banh emphasised the importance of promoting practical maritime cooperation and the need to continue working together. On the issue of the South China Sea, Cambodia wishes to view this sea as a place of peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity.

“We will continue our commitment to working together with concerned parties to promote the full implementation of the DOC and expedite the negotiation of the COC, which is substantial, effective and in line with international law, including UNCLOS 1982. At the same time, once again we call on all parties to exercise self-restraint and avoid the use of force to tackle the issues,” he said.

At the same time, Samdech Tea Banh also mentioned about global challenges such as the problem in Myanmar, Russia-Ukraine war and the North Korean nuclear issue, as well as climate change, the pandemic, terrorism, and cyber threats, along with existing traditional security issues, which indeed require a global solution as well.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press