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Sweden closing embassy in Cambodia at the end of next year

Taing Rinith / Khmer Times Fri, November 27, 2020

PHNOM PENH – Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs today announced that the Embassy of Sweden in Phnom Penh will close its doors by the end of 2021, making it the first diplomatic mission to do so in decades.

According to a press release issued by the ministry, the decision is attributed to “continuous adaptation of its organisation abroad to external changes and new monitoring and service requirements” of Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

“This is a constant process of change and involves Sweden sometimes opening or closing embassies and consulates,” the statement said, adding that none of its officials will be stationed in Cambodia after the embassy’s closure.

“The intention is to concurrently accredit the ambassador in Bangkok to Cambodia, and the activities of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) will be transferred to the embassy in Bangkok.”

It also said that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) will carry on development cooperation in Cambodia.

Although the Swedish government stresses in the press release that the relationship between Cambodia and Sweden is “good”, it should be noted that in July it announced they would cease to provide development assistance to the Cambodian government and instead would redirect its focus to human rights, democracy and the rule of law on the grounds that the kingdom in recent years has severely restricted democratic space, human rights, civil society and the media.

“This has made it difficult to pursue broad and close cooperation,” said Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson in July.

According to the embassy, in 2019 the Swedish government provided nearly $24 million as development assistance to the kingdom, based on bilateral development cooperation. The Scandinavian country’s humanitarian aid to Cambodia started in 1979.

SOURCE: Khmer Times, Cambodia Fri, November 27, 2020

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