Government Says German Land Rights Funding Came to Natural End

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.”

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