German Newspaper Criticizes Ambassador for Lacking Neutrality

Germany’s influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has criticized the country’s ambassador in Phnom Penh for acting as a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Hun Sen after he divulged the content of a recent meeting the two men held during which they discussed the distribution of seats in the National Assembly.

On Friday, the newspaper published a story titled “The Despot and the Diplomat” about the meeting between Ambassador Wolfgang Moser and Mr. Hun Sen during which the prime minister warned that he would give the opposition CNRP’s seats away to minor parties if they refuse to take their seats in Parliament.

“Was he used? Victim of bad timing? Or is there more to it?” wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, claiming that as the results of the national election had not yet been officially announced and as both parties were claiming to have won, Mr. Moser had appeared to be congratulating Mr. Hun Sen on winning the election.

“The situation got even more complicated because the ruling party made it look as if the German representative ‘congratulated’ Hun Sen for an electoral victory…. The Germans, therefore, were bestowed with the dubious honor of being named in the same breath as China, one of the most important pillars of the Hun Sen regime,” the article reads.

Mr. Moser, who will leave his post this month, denied Monday that he had acted as a messenger for Mr. Hun Sen.

“I have to clarify that I did not deliver a message by Hun Sen,” Mr. Moser said in an email in German.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also quoted Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, criticizing Mr. Moser and calling his behavior “shocking” and “questionable.”

“The whole thing wouldn’t have bothered anyone if the NGO Licadho hadn’t implied a closeness to Hun Sen, which does not exist. Sometimes one wishes that certain people would first check with the other side before they evoke criticism,” Mr. Moser said.

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