Cambodia Celebrates ASEM Day Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

The Royal Government of Cambodia hosted here today the celebration of the ASEM Day with different events amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the world.

The celebration was held under the presidency of H.E. Prak Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation in front of Botum Vattey Pagoda.

It is a real pleasure to witness such a big gathering to celebrate the ASEM Day today, said H.E. Prak Sokhonn.

The celebration of the ASEM Day today is another manifestation of Cambodia’s readiness and strong commitment to the ASEM13 Summit, he said, adding that aside from raising awareness among the public on the importance of ASEM and all ASEM events that will be organised in Cambodia throughout this year, it is particularly relevant to the youth. Youth is our future: the sooner they can grasp the opportunities of this Asia-Europe partnership, the better prepared they are to secure their future beyond the geographical confines of Cambodia.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the organisers and all stakeholders for making this event a reality, and of course a success! Your personal dedication to this event, which is extensively covered by the mainstream and social media, has galvanised the passion of our whole-nation, which in turn will promote Cambodia’s prestige on the world stage and enhance her role in ASEM in re-energising multilateralism,” he stated.

“The celebration of the ASEM Day this year is particularly special and auspicious for Cambodia for the obvious reason that the Kingdom will be hosting the 13th ASEM Summit (ASEM13) in Phnom Penh on Nov. 16-17. It is the greatest opportunity for Cambodia to affirm, at the highest level, our commitment to strengthen the multilateral system, our contribution to the promotion of collective efforts to address global challenges, and our participation in exploring opportunities to revitalise the global economy. Cambodia has proposed ‘Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth’ as the theme of the Summit. This theme focuses on the interaction of four main ideas, namely: Multilateralism, Growth, Sustainable Development and Prosperity. Altogether they can contribute formidably to the strengthening of the Asia-Europe partnership to ensure that multilateralism brings sustainable and inclusive growth and shared prosperity,” he continued.

In the context of the COVID-19 epidemic, H.E. Prak Sokhonn said that this is a time in which the world is gripped with the spread of the Coronavirus, now officially labelled as COVID-19. Many official events and conferences planned for many months in advance in different parts of the world are being cancelled or postponed, out of fear of the spread of this virus. “Of relevance to Cambodia, I can mention that the ASEAN-US Special Summit in Las Vegas on March 14, 2020 had to be postponed. Cambodia too had to postpone the ASEM SOM Retreat due to the virus crisis in Europe, […] but today Cambodia celebrate these events up as schedule,” he underlined.

“Up until COVID-19 hits the news, Cambodia are assailed daily by news of multilateralism under mounting pressure due to rising unilateralism, protectionism and political populism, which have posed significant threats and unpredictability to the global economy. We have also witnessed the weakening of some countries’ commitment to multilateralism and other countries turning away from the multilateral solutions,” he added.

“That is why, Cambodia hopes that the ASEM13 will magnify the common aspiration and interest of all ASEM partners to stay true to their mission of building a strong, vibrant and comprehensive Asia-Europe partnership. In my view, it is only through our unified and shared purpose can we hope to revitalise multilateralism and energise our collective efforts to tackle current and emerging global challenges of our time,” he stressed.

According to H.E. Prak Sokhonn, Cambodia is almost spared for the moment, but the Government is taking all precautionary measures to combat this disease and Cambodia are collaborating with world class health organisations.

Because of COVID-19 outbreak, Cambodia decided to postpone the hosting of ASEM SOM Retreat but H.E. Prak Sokhonn hoped the meeting will resume in the future.

“As I have mentioned, Cambodia had to postpone the hosting of the ASEM SOM Retreat planned to be held on Mar. 5-6, 2020 in Siem Reap, due to the request from the EU and some of its member states who were prohibited to travel given the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe. We hope to resume it at an appropriate time in the future when the circumstances become more conducive,” said the Cambodian top diplomat.

This morning, apart from the official opening ceremony, there was an exhibition introducing the activities of the 13th ASEM Summit's side-events and in the evening, there will be a dialogue of ASEM Day and a concert.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press