European Donors Working on Joint Cooperation Aid Strategy

Cambodia’s European aid donors said Tuesday they are working on a new five-year “cooperation strategy” designed to increase the impact of the millions of dollars in loans and grants they give the country each year.

With a combined $209 million in aid to Cambodia in 2012, the E.U. and its member states together constitute the nation’s largest single source of aid.

“The European development partners are already the largest grant providers in Cambodia and we believe the joint programming process can help raise our development impact and quality for the benefit of the Cambodian people even further,” they said in a joint statement that was short on details.

The statement notes that their joint priorities will closely mirror the government’s, “apart from the reform of the Armed Forces.”

The partners said they had met with business representatives and NGOs about the plan in March and with government officials on Tuesday. They said they would soon consult with Cambodia’s other foreign aid donors on the plan and have it finalized by the end of April.

The news came on the day a seven-member delegation of European parliamentarians arrived in Phnom Penh for a four-day visit to address a range of issues: development, human rights, labor issues and the current political standoff.

A statement on the visit from the Cambodian National Assembly says the delegates will have meetings with Cabinet Minister Sok An, Interior Minister Sar Kheng, Assembly Second Vice-President Khoun Sodary and Chheang Vun, chairman of the Assembly’s foreign affairs committee.

The opposition accuses the government of stealing last year’s national elections and, in protest, has refused to take the Assembly seats it officially won in the poll.

The CNRP has urged Cambodia’s donors not to enter into any new aid deals with the current government until its dispute with the CPP is settled.

(Additional reporting by Hul Reaksmey)

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