Late last month, the government of Sweden made the surprising announcement that it would close its embassy in Phnom Penh at the end of next year, and transfer its diplomatic representation in Cambodia to the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok. Sweden’s decision has prompted many questions, not least, the reason why the government has decided to take this step at this particular juncture.
Sweden’s diplomatic ties with Cambodia date back to 1961, with relations initially handled through the nation’s embassy in Bangkok. Sweden started providing humanitarian and emergency assistance to Cambodia after the overthrow of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, mostly channeled through the United Nations. In 1996, the country opened a development cooperation office in the country – a move that coincided with the formulation of Stockholm’s long-term development cooperation strategy in Cambodia.