ASEAN Leaders Gather in Phnom Penh

The ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting has started in Phnom Penh, with Cambodian premier Hun Sen urging member states to unite to combat the raft of challenges faced both globally and at home.
Prime Minister Hun Sen Opens the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting at Sokha Hotel Phnom Penh. Kiripost/stringer
Prime Minister Hun Sen Opens the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting at Sokha Hotel Phnom Penh. Kiripost/stringer

The ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting (AMM) kicked off in Phnom Penh on Wednesday with the Cambodia chairmanship urging member states to address challenges together in unity.

Opening the 55th AMM at Sokha Hotel Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen said ASEAN has progressed from struggling with security, stability, and development to a thriving union of member states. He added they have also turned suspicion into trust, and hostilities and confrontation into cooperation and development.

However, challenges lurk in the background, he said, adding that Covid-19, increasing rivalries between the two superpowers and the war in Ukraine are putting economic pressures on other countries. In addition, the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and political and security are challenges for ASEAN that have shaken the region’s stability.

“This year, Cambodia’s Chairmanship theme “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together” is in fact a response to all of these challenges, necessitating that we pool our efforts and combine our sense of “togetherness” to tackle them in the most effective way possible,” Hun Sen said.

“Cambodia emphasizes our stance in unity for cooperation, and not unity for confrontation. We strive to focus on issues that bind us rather than those that divide us. We must prioritize peace above all else,” Hun Sen said.

Myanmar did not send a representative to AMM.

On the issue of Myanmar, Hun Sen said despite much time and energy spent, the country faces many difficulties and criticisms. He added that the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus has not advanced as nations had hoped.

Hun Sen added that ASEAN is disappointed and disturbed by the recent executions of Myanmar activists, despite his appeal and that of others.

“If more prisoners are to be executed, we will be forced to rethink our role vis-à-vis Asean’s Five-Point Consensus,” he warned.

Also, attending the AMM opening was Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi. She said she underlined the threat of a nuclear war that is no longer a distant possibility in the current geopolitical landscape.

“Continuous dialogue with nuclear weapons is the only way forward,” Marsudi said in a Tweet.

Prior to AMM’s inaugural gathering, Singapore officials oversaw the official opening of the Cambodia-Singapore Cooperation Center in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. This is to commemorate two decades of technical cooperation and mutual exchange between the two nations.