Tell Me: The West, Is It Far?

A general view of the Cambodian Peace Conference in Paris 23 October 1991. (Photo: AFP)
  • Cambodianess
  • November 1, 2020 3:50 AM

Marked by a national holiday until last year, the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements on Oct. 23, 1991, had open a new chapter in Cambodia’s history.

Having the day of this event’s anniversary turned nameless on the country's calendar leaves no doubt that this chapter is from now on closed.

Peace returning to the country had moved to action the major powers and been outlined in the course of international conferences.

This reflected an era during which Cambodia’s future was being decided outside the country in accordance with western superpowers’ interests and their games of alliances.

The suspension of the European Union's Everything But Arms (EBA) trade benefits this year due to Cambodia not meeting—according to the European Union (EU)—its commitments regarding people’s political and human rights, is an even stronger indication that the era of the Paris Peace Agreements is over.

The Cambodian government has made it clear to the EU that it will not let its course of action regarding domestic issues be dictated.   

Political differences between Cambodia and some western powers are compounded by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has distanced Cambodia even more from Europe.

European tourists will opt for destinations closer from home. Less of them will be seen in the Angkor Archeological Park. And, as consumers, Europeans will follow the same pattern and select products made as close as possible from Europe.

The logical repercussion of this situation is that Cambodia must focus on its regional environment to continue its economic development and, especially, to rescue its tourism industry. In this regard, Siem Reap City being designated ASEAN City of Culture for 2021-2022 could not have happened at a better time. 

When it comes down to it, the Western world giving a hand to rebuild Cambodia in the 1990s will have been the starting point of Cambodia’s long march away from it.   

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