Conversation with Rafael Moreno on how to work with the Cambodian government and taking a pragmatic view of corruption at the KR tribunal
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2008 02:58:30 -0800 (PST)
A debonair diplomat
Written by Brendan Brady
Friday, 05 December 2008
Rafael Moreno on how to work with the government and taking a
pragmatic view of corruption at the KR tribunal
Does Cambodian politics now lack a real opposition voice?
You have an overwhelming number of CPP in the parliament, and there's
always a risk in a country where one party has an overwhelming
dominance in institutions that the appropriate balance and controls
are lost.... [But] on the question of what is the role of the
opposition, on the question of the checks and balances the opposition
is asking for, it is not the role of international organisations to
get into the functioning of the parliament, as these are to be
discussed and solved within the Cambodian government. As
representatives of the European Union, we do not intervene in what
should be the role of the opposition in the government.
What balance does the EC strike between using punitive measures versus
dialogue to influence the government?
We prefer to talk about dialogue. We know the Cambodian government is
very open to dialogue on any subject. This includes dialogue on the
cases we are working on: corruption, governance, election
recommendations. It is not a question of "putting pressure" on the
What areas of reform do you see as most pressing?
On the legislation side, we have the penal code and Anti-Corruption
Law that now seem to be advancing, and this would help attract foreign
investment as well. All international donors have been giving the
advice to Cambodia that you have to diversify. You can't count only on
tourism and garments because they are very vulnerable sectors.
Cambodia is opening to agro-industry, for instance. One of the things
the European Commission is promoting is a new way for agro-industry
export and development in Cambodia. We recently organised a seminar
for branding regional products. In Cambodia you have wonderful
products, like Kampot pepper, special organic rice in Battambang, silk
in certain regions, and Cambodia has not yet been able to really
establish branding for these products. And these products could be
sold in specialty shops in Europe. There is huge room for development
in quality branding.
Is the European Commission taking specific measures to help Cambodia
deal with the effects of the global financial crisis?
We are worried. There is a construction bubble here, and you see there
are risks in many sectors.
As I said, the Cambodian economy is largely based on two sectors
(tourism and garments) and it will have to diversify. The people who
will be most touched are the poorest people in the poorest regions. We
are not only promoting classical corporations, but also financing
activities that will provide food security for the Cambodian people.
For example, by providing more storage facilities for rice, farmers
will be able to sell their product at better prices.
What role does the EC have in brokering contributions by European
countries to the ECCC?
Every European country is independent in deciding whether to give
money and where to put the money. Of course, in terms of dialogue, we
meet with EU member states very often in Phnom Penh and talk about
what kind of approach we will have. We are members of the Project
Board of the ECCC. Last year we proposed having a special review of
all the new management procedures that have been approved in the
tribunal. In February and March of this year, the review report came
out, and we were quite happy to see that most of the proposals we gave
to the Cambodian side of the court were taken into account.... There
is a preoccupation on the European Commission side about the
allegations of corruption. It is clear for us that an international
tribunal should not have the heavy weight of corruption on its
shoulders, and we are counting on dialogue between the UN and
government to solve these problems, with us contributing to it when
How timely is a response?
For certain people, there's an urgent thing that this needs to be
solved tomorrow. On the European Commission side, we are quite
pragmatic. On the one hand, there is a clear need on the Cambodian
side to act and take credible measures against these allegations.
Provided that the ECCC can work in a healthy and transparent
environment, we will continue giving financial and technical support
to the tribunal. The court is supposed to start soon - the beginning
of next year - so it's important we have a credible, corruption-free
tribunal. And (in the meantime), we'll continue having our eyes on
Interview by Brendan Brady
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