H.E. Dr. SOK Siphanna,Senior Adviser to the Royal Government of Cambodia and ASEM SOM Leader for Cambodia, and H.E. Mr. LUY David, Secretary of State and Alternate ASEM SOM Leader for Cambodia, co-chaired the 4th ASEM Regional Coordinators’ Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) on 4 December 2020. The Meeting was also participated by ASEM SOM Leaders from ASEM Regional Coordinators – the European Union, Russia, Singapore, Germany and Portugal, representing the groups of Europe, NESA, and ASEAN– as well as the ASEF Executive Director.
The Meeting discussed key issues related to the 13th ASEM Summit (ASEM13) in Phnom Penh in 2021, including:
(i) The Preparations of ASEM13,
(ii) ASEM13 Outcome Documents, and
(iii) ASEAN Proposal on ASEM Connectivity.
At the outset, Dr. SOK Siphana expressed Cambodia’s solidarity with the international community in the fight against COVID-19. In this regard, he underlined the timely adoption of the ASEM Ministerial Statement on COVID-19 in September 2020, which emphasized that combating the pandemic would require concerted international cooperation, effective actions by multilateral organisations and support for multilateralism.
The Meeting took note with appreciation of the progress of Cambodia’s preparation for the ASEM13 despite the outbreak of COVID-19. Although the Summit has been rescheduled to the first week of June 2021, Cambodia has remained steadfastly committed to the preparation process as the construction of the new convention center has been completed and the accommodation for delegates has also been reserved.
The Meeting also discussed the ASEM13 outcome documents, namely the draft ASEM13 Chair’s Statement and Phnom Penh Declaration on Post-COVID-19 Socio-Economic Recovery, based on the Cambodia’s proposed outline and key elements. For the draft proposal on ASEM Connectivity, the meeting proposed that Cambodia, as the Chair of ASEM13, circulates the draft to all Partners and put it in the next ASEM SOM’s agenda.
Per ASEM tradition, there will be three important meetings leading up to the Summit, namely; the ASEM SOM Retreat, the 2nd ASEM SOM in Berlin and the back-to-back ASEM SOM with the Summit. Cambodia also envisaged convening a physical ASEM SOM Retreat in early March 2021 if the COVID-19 situation is quite manageable.
As the postponement of ASEM13 to 2021 given the overlapping of the ASEM13 with the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMFMM), the meeting decided for in-depth discussion on this issue at the next full ASEM SOM.
In the meantime, ASEF Executive Director and his Deputy briefed the meeting of ASEF work and initiatives to support ASEM process and visibility amid the COVID-19 pandemic as well as side events to be organized during the ASEM13. ASEF also proposed an Expert workshop on Post-COVID-19 Socio-Economic Recovery with an aim to support Cambodia in drafting the COVID-19 related statement.
All participants expressed their high hope that ASEM Leaders would attend the physical 13th ASEM Summit in Phnom Penh to usher the ASEM process in the post-COVID-19 world and provide new momentums to multilateralism in general.