The Ministry of Land Management has denied that failings on its part had anything to do with Germany’s recent decision to end its support for the government’s land rights work after more than 20 years, despite the move’s well-documented connection to Germany’s concerns with the ministry.
Germany informed the ministry last year that it would end its support for titling projects and other land rights work once the current phase of cooperation ends in June. In a September 29 letter to the ministry, Friedrich Kitschelt, a state secretary for Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, gave several reasons for the decision.
“We would, among other things, have liked [a] clear statement of intent regarding more transparent implementation of land reform, faster land titling for indigenous communities and the establishment of an independent, effective, credible mechanism for resolving conflicts over large areas of land,” Mr. Kitschelt wrote, adding that Germany also expected “a clear commitment to undertaking further steps on this together.”
“In the light of this, we must regrettably conclude that there is not at this point sufficient common ground for us to successfully continue our cooperation in the field of land rights. We have therefore decided not to continue with our cooperation in this area when the ongoing phase comes to its agreed end in summer 2016,” he added.
However, on Saturday, the Land Management Ministry issued a statement claiming that its cooperation with Germany had nothing to do with any government shortcomings.
The ministry, it says, “would like to state that the technical cooperation assistance from Germany on land rights Phase II will finish at the end of June 2016 as per the bilateral cooperation agreement, not because of any failures.”
Ministry spokesman Cheam Sophalmakara said on Monday that he saw no contradiction between Germany’s letter and the ministry’s statement.
“The letter by the ministry is meaningful,” he said. “Our ministry replied to the Germans, so you can analyze the letter.”