A Change of Guard

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Cambodia revives ties with Balkan state, welcomes support for UN bid

Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Vong Sokheng
Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Vuk Jeremic (right), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, speaks yesterday with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong (not pictured) in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh Post

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong expressed Cambodia’s support of Serbia against Kosovo’s independence yesterday, following the first diplomatic meeting between the two countries in more than 40 years.

“Cambodia has a policy of not recognising and not encouraging states to secede,” Hor Namhong told reporters following his closed-door meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic.

“If we recognise secessionist states today, we are vulnerable to worldwide secessionist movements in the future,” he added.

Jeremic said that the two countries were “contributing to international peace and stability” by not recognising Kosovo’s independence. Kosovo has been the scene of a long-running conflict between its Serb and ethnic Albanian inhabitants.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move that was upheld by the International Court of Justice in 2010. Serbia has refused to recognise the republic.

During the Kosovo War in the late 1990s, then-Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic unleashed a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against Kosovo Albanians. From the end of the war until 2008, the province was administered by the United Nations.

Yesterday’s meeting between the two foreign ministers was part of Jeremic’s two-day visit to the Kingdom, the first high-level meeting between the two countries since former Yugoslavia president Josip Broz Tito visited King Norodom Sihanouk in 1968.

Yugoslavia collapsed in the 1990s, breaking into several states.

“The visit of Serbia’s Foreign Minister is aimed at reviving a long history of friendship between our countries and boosting continued bilateral cooperation,” Hor Namhong said.

He also said that the two countries were in talks to develop a visa exemption policy to promote tourism. Jerimic added that, beginning next year, Serbia would provide scholarships for Cambodian students to study there.

Hor Namhong also extended his gratefulness to Serbia for supporting Cambodia’s bid to serve as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

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