The Canadian Embassy, which established itself in Phnom Penh in 1992, will close its doors in May, according to a statement issued by the embassy Monday.
Until now, the Canadian Embassy has occupied a small corner of the Australian Embassy on Street 254. That country’s diplomats will move into new quarters later this year, and no space has been allotted for their Canadian counterparts.
The Canadian government, according to an e-mailed statement, “has decided to change the nature of its diplomatic representation in Cambodia…. Our intention is that a Canadian Ambassador in a nearby country will be accredited to Cambodia.” The decision to close the embassy, the statement said, came after “serious re-examination of Canada’s current diplomatic representation throughout the world.”
Although the Phnom Penh Embassy is closing, the statement continued, new Canadian government offices will be opened, “mainly to take advantage of emerging markets. Three of these have already been opened: two in India and one in Mongolia.”
Consular services for Canadians will be provided by the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh, but citizens will have to travel to Bangkok for passport services. Immigration services will be available at the Canadian High Commission in Singapore.
Charge d’affaires for the Canadian Embassy Evelyne Coulombe said Tuesday that she could not comment on the closure or the reasons behind it.
Canada has been without an ambassador to Cambodia since Donica Pottie left in 2007. Earlier that year, Canadian media reported the Phnom Penh embassy was one of 19 worldwide being considered for closure by the Canadian government. At the time, Ms Pottie said she was unaware of the Canadian press report and stated, “We’re not closing.”
In February, the Canadian government announced that it was dropping Cambodia from its list of countries to be targeted for aid funding, but has so far given no indication of which aid programs will be cut or by how much. Tuesday’s statement on the embassy closure said only that, “Canada’s development assistance programming with Cambodia…will continue.”