Borissov confers with Cambodian PM Hun SenEuropost , Sofia
"We appreciate the significance of the relations of traditional friendship and mutually advantageous cooperation between Bulgaria and Cambodia," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Wednesday as he conferred with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is paying an official visit here.
The Bulgarian head of government stressed at the meeting that the two countries will mark the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.
The two PMs expressed readiness to work for invigorating bilateral interaction and for broadening the political dialogue between Bulgaria and Cambodia. Hun Sen's visit is a step precisely in this direction, it was noted during the visit.
"We must promote and revive the pragmatic relations we had with Cambodia in the past," the Bulgarian Prime Minister said at a news conference at the Council of Ministers after his meeting with Hun Sen. Borissov added that Cambodia is reopening its embassy in Sofia, while the Bulgarian embassy in Phnom Penh has been closed. "I hope that we, too, will be able to reopen our embassy there," he said.
Borissov hopes that the two countries will reactivate their relations soon and stressed that Bulgaria can be of use to Cambodia in the relations with the EU.
The two PMs discussed the advancement of relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the EU. Hun Sen invited his Bulgarian counterpart to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which his country will host in the autumn of 2020, and extended a formal invitation to Borissov to pay an official visit to Cambodia.
Emerging from the talks, the Cambodian head of government told the media that this is his fifth visit to Bulgaria and his first since the early 1980s. "Since then, both countries have undergone a number of domestic political changes, too, but, as old friends, we always try to meet," the guest said, stressing that the links between the two countries go almost 60 years back. "We will not forget what Bulgaria did for Cambodia," Hun Sen said, thanking for the help of this country against the Khmer Rouge genocide. "The Cambodian people is indebted to and grateful for Bulgaria's support in the past, and we share the grief of the three Bulgarian families who lost their brothers and fathers in the battles in Cambodia in the early 1990s," the Cambodian Prime Minister said.
He was referring to the ten Bulgarian peacekeepers who were killed in 1992 and 1993 as members of the UN-led mission in Cambodia.
The opportunities for an expansion of bilateral economic contacts, the encouragement of contacts between the two countries' business communities and the promotion of two-way investment activities figured high on the agenda of the conversation. Specific cooperation in culture, home affairs and tourism was also discussed.
The host side said that it is ready to consider opportunities for joint actions in regional development and public works, environmental protection, exchange of experience and experts, and organizing training for energy professionals, considering Bulgaria's extensive experience in the electric power industry.
Borissov said that an important understanding had been reached and an investment promotion agreement will be drafted fast. This agreement will give investors security, and the trade between the two countries will be protected.
There will be a joint political commission between Bulgaria and Cambodia, and a working intergovernmental economic commission will be set up, too.
The traditions in bilateral ties are evidenced by 100 Cambodian nationals who have completed their higher education in Bulgaria and who now occupy top positions in various spheres of public life in their country. "I am glad that the delegation you head also includes such Cambodian nationals, which is a clear sign that Bulgarian higher educational establishments offer high-quality and competitive education," the Bulgarian PM told his host.
"In promoting our relations in education, the most effective model for its implementation is to establish direct cooperation between the two countries' universities because they are autonomous," Borissov told his guest.
Hun Sen said at a news conference after the talks that Borissov had confirmed the possibility of reviving the student exchange programme between the two countries. The guest pointed out that nearly 200 Cambodian students studied in Bulgaria during the 1980-1989 period.
Earlier in the day, in the presence of the two prime ministers, the responsible ministers and deputy ministers of the two countries signed an intergovernmental Agreement on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation, a Programme for Cooperation in Culture for the 2019-2021 Period, and a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation between the Bulgarian Diplomatic Institute and Cambodia's National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations.
Hun Sen is the first Cambodian Prime Minister to visit this country in nearly 40 years. Bulgaria is part of his European tour, which also includes the Czech Republic and Hungary. Hun Sen visited Bulgaria in 1981 as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of Kampuchea.