Conference Looks At Future of Cambodia

About 200 government officials and diplomats gathered at the Hotel Sofitel Cambodiana Wed­nesday for the launch of “Cam­bodia in the Millennium,” a conference to discuss Cam­bodia’s future.

Keynote speaker, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, spoke broadly about Cambodia’s need to promote peace, health and education in order to prosper.

“Cambodia still faces many challenges.” he said, listing poverty and human rights violations as among the most pressing.

The conference is sponsored by local think tank Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace and German NGO Fried­rich-Ebert-Stiftung. Guests Wednesday included Finance Minister Keat Chhon, CICP Chairman Prince Norodom Sirivudh and co-Defense Minister Sisowath Sirirath along with ambassadors from Germany, the Philippines, Malaysia and China.

Regional Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Dr Erfried Adam, drew comparisons between Cambodia and his native Ger­many, which, 50 years after its collapse, still struggles to make sense of its history under the genocidal Nazi regime, he said.

The three-day conference resumes today with a keynote address by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Upcoming sessions include discussions of the future of the monarchy, the legacy of the Khmer Rouge, foreign affairs, human rights, and the future of democracy in Cambodia.

Referring obliquely to the upcoming trials of Khmer Rouge leaders, he said: “Nobody in the West should claim a moral or political superiority [but] justice through legal proceedings is the most important—and the most difficult—task.”

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