Cambodia Welcomes New Myanmar Ambassador, Emphasizes on ASEAN’s 5PC: Analysts

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia Senate President and Acting Head of State Say Chhum welcomed on March 4 the new Ambassador of Myanmar to Cambodia, U Kyaw Soe Min.

The meeting took place at the Senate of Cambodia and was the occasion for Chhum to praise the relationship between Cambodia and Myanmar, and to recall the two countries share common Buddhist values.

Cambodian Senate, National Assembly, the government, ministries, and all institutions are always ready to cooperate with Myanmar to promote both relationship and people-to-people connectivity, said Chhum.

Showing his satisfaction, Ambassador Kyaw Soe Min said he is committed to enhancing friendship and cooperation through his diplomatic missions.

While ambassadors are normally welcomed by King Norodom Sihamoni, it becomes the role of the Senate President, in its quality of Acting Head of State, when the King is not in the country. King Sihamoni was in China yesterday.

Maintaining diplomatic-level relationships

Asked about the ongoing situation in Myanmar, three years after a military coup that ousted the elected civilian government and plunged the country into chaos, Chum Sounry, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that Myanmar’s conflict should be addressed via the ASEAN platform. He stressed that Myanmar’s stakeholders should work on the implementation of the ASEAN’s 5 Points Consensus (5PC) that was established in April 2021, in a move to bring back peace to the country.

While each ASEAN Member State has its own approach to engaging with Myanmar, Cambodia goes through “engagement and dialogue, meaning that Cambodia maintains diplomatic relations at the Ambassador level with Myanmar,” Sounry told Cambodianess.

Cambodia, however, still supports the 5PC to “assist Myanmar in finding peace and stability and a return to normalcy based on a practical, step-by-step, and innovative approach,” he added.

So far, the ASEAN consensus has failed to prove efficient. Civil war is believed to have killed over 8,000 civilians – and 50,000 people including combat forces from the opposition – and to have displaced over 2.7 million people.

Vann Bunna, a regional foreign policy analyst, said the welcoming of the new ambassador shows Cambodia’s recognition of Myanmar’s new leadership, but in a bilateral framework.

“However, Cambodia does not give much value yet, as there are still complicated issues in the military regime due to the lack of recognition within the country themselves,” Bunna said.

Likewise, Sam Seun, a policy analyst and a researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), also thinks that welcoming Myanmar’s new ambassador to Cambodia does not change Cambodia’s stance on the five-point consensus implementation on Myanmar’s political conflict – which is considered as a State’s internal issues.

“The meeting at this time was very normal because it is not only for Cambodia but for all countries in ASEAN as well as in the world, except the Myanmar Ambassador to the United Nations,” the researcher said, referring to Kyaw Moe Tun, who has been fired from his position by the junta for his anti-military stance but stayed in office nonetheless.

“The Cambodian Government respects the local administration who controls the country. At the same time, Cambodia also works to facilitate the conflict by talking to other stakeholders in the Myanmar crisis. But it is not that easy because it is a long-term conflict in which each side just wants to win,” he added.

Both analysts added that all ASEAN member states did not exclude Myanmar’s membership, but only suspended the country’s participation in official ASEAN summits and meetings with partners. Meanwhile, countries did not withdraw their embassies at the beginning of the conflicts, meaning that diplomatic relations are still ongoing.

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