Indonesia-Cambodia Diplomatic Ties Flourish: Ambassador Highlights Strong Relations and Future Collaborations

Last Updated on March 8, 2024 8:15 am

In an exclusive interview with The Phnom Penh Post, Indonesian Ambassador to Cambodia, Santo Darmosumarto, discussed the robust 65 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, shedding light on historical connections dating back to the 9th century.

Ambassador Darmosumarto highlighted the evolution of bilateral ties, emphasizing key aspects such as leadership interactions, defense cooperation, tourism links, capacity building, and cultural understanding, along with scholarship programs.

Historical Ties and Modern Cooperation:

Addressing the deep-rooted connections, Ambassador Darmosumarto remarked, “Our relationship goes back even further to the 9th century,” citing historical ties when the King who unified the Khmer Empire, Jayavarman II, spent time in Indonesia. Despite the ancient roots, formal diplomatic relations were established in 1959.

Proud of Indonesia’s role in bringing peace to Cambodia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the ambassador expressed optimism about elevating the bilateral relationship over the next 65 years.

Leadership Interactions and Political Cooperation:

The interview delved into the close relationships between leaders, citing interactions between former Prime Minister Hun Sen and various Indonesian leaders. Current Prime Minister Hun Manet’s early meeting with President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo was emphasized, facilitating smoother technical cooperation. The ambassador also highlighted active political cooperation through parliamentary interactions in Asean and international forums.

Burgeoning Trade and Economic Cooperation:

Ambassador Darmosumarto acknowledged the flourishing economic ties, noting that Indonesia is now Cambodia’s sixth-largest trading partner, with trade surpassing US$1 billion in 2023. He shared insights into Indonesian companies investing in Cambodia and expressed the growing interest among Indonesians to contribute to Cambodia’s economic development across multiple sectors.

While highlighting existing economic cooperation agreements, he stressed the need to implement them effectively. Plans for a bilateral investment cooperation agreement were also mentioned, indicating a positive trajectory for economic collaboration.

Challenges and Opportunities:

Identifying logistical challenges and the perception of Cambodia’s market size as obstacles, the ambassador stressed the importance of enhancing connectivity to reduce transport costs. He debunked the misconception of Cambodia’s small market, emphasizing its potential as an economic hub for the Mekong region.

Educational and Cultural Exchange:

Discussing the positive impact of educational exchanges, Ambassador Darmosumarto emphasized people-to-people interactions. He expressed pride in Cambodian scholars who became high-level officials after studying in Indonesia, highlighting ongoing efforts to encourage more scholarships.

The ambassador shared plans for educational exhibitions, such as Sousdey Indonesia, to promote opportunities for Cambodian students. Cultural exchange programs, including traditional dance and music lessons, were underscored as crucial for fostering a deeper understanding between the nations.

Tourism and Future Collaborations:

Addressing tourism cooperation, the ambassador discussed the 2022 Memorandum of Understanding on tourism cooperation. Plans to enhance connectivity, promote joint tourist destinations, and showcase lesser-known attractions were outlined as strategies to boost tourism links.

Youth as the Key to Future Cooperation:

As both nations celebrate the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations, Ambassador Darmosumarto conveyed a message of collaboration, emphasizing the significance of connecting the younger generations. He highlighted the potential for increased cooperation beyond current endeavors and urged the two countries to step up their collaboration.

In conclusion, the ambassador expressed hope that both Indonesia and Cambodia can build on their accomplishments over the past 65 years to further strengthen their cooperation in the future.

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