Phnom Penh (FN), Dec. 18 – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that Cambodia joined the regional bloc Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for four reasons, including (1) principle of non-interference, (2) principle of consensus; (3) economic integration; and (4) diplomatic bridges.

The statement was made at the graduation ceremony of Western University, held at Diamond Island on Wednesday.

Strongman Hun Sen said if ASEAN interferes with one another’s affairs, Cambodia would not join the bloc.

“The next generation leader must embrace the principle of consensus in the ASEAN community,” the premier advised.

“ASEAN has no big or small brothers. ASEAN Member States do not meddle in the internal affairs of one another,” he continued, adding that, “There is no rich or poor ASEAN Members. The bloc makes the consensus-based decision.

Prime minister explained that Cambodia has gained a lot of economic benefits from the ASEAN integration and that the bloc serves as a diplomatic bridges for Cambodia to connect to other major nations in the world through ASEAN Plus Three, ASEAN Plus Six, ASEAN-US, ASEAN-Russia and more.

It is worth recalling that two years after the Paris Peace Agreement, Cambodia paved its way to become a guest country in ASEAN from 1993 to 1995 and an observer from 1995 to 1996. In April 1999, Cambodia became a full member.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Cambodia’s membership. In his congratulatory letter dated 30 April 2019, Cambodian Prime Minister said ASEAN has provided a reliable security shield to its member countries in the defence of independence and sovereignty.

Cambodia has reaped remarkable benefits from ASEAN over the last two decades. The Kingdom regards ASEAN as the catalyst of regional economic integration and economic diversification, a shield to protect its sovereignty and independence, and a platform to promote its national identity and prestige, said Chheang Vannarith, president of the Asian Vision Institute – an independent think tank based in Phnom Penh.

“As Cambodia is committed to achieving the vision of becoming a middle-income country by 2030 and a developed country by 2050, Cambodia considers the ASEAN community a source of peace, security, and prosperity for the Cambodian people.”