Campuchea like Catalonia?
Mirosław PiotrowskiOne of them is ASEAN. This is a union of ten countries of Southern-Eastern Asia. Its member is Cambodia, called Campuchea before. It was the last to join the ASEAN eighteen years ago. Before that, experiencing the civil war during which the ‘Red khmers’ commanded by Pol Pot, murdered neary two milion people. At present it is enjoying the relative stability. Here I also arrived with an official delegation of six people of our European parliament. A lot of meetings with MEPs, ministers and the vice-prime minister. Despite a lot of realised and possibile forms of cooperation, all the meetings were domineered by one issue. Well, in September the authorities of Cambodia arrested the leader of the biggest opposition party Kem Sokh, accusing him of breaching the constitution. During his visit in Australia, this politician was to say publicly that in the inner political fight he was using the outer support. And this is forbidden by the law in Cambodia. Referring to a registered video, the authorities of this country did not only arrest him, but they also want to go further and can dissolve the whole party. During one of the meetings, the leadership of our parliamentary delegation was demanding on releasing the oppositionist from custody. No justifications of the authorities in Phnom Penh were accepted. They referred to the constitution, necessity of guarding the rule of law, a possibile scenario of another civil war. All those arguments were rejected by the leadership of our delegation. ‘Either you will release the oppositionist fro custody or we will make the European Parliament block a few hundred million euro assigned for cooperation and support of Cambodia’ – a German Christian Democrat, the chairman of the EP delegation, was threatening, and accompanied by the vice-president, Belgian socialist. That behavior, in the opinion of the Cambodian authorities, was beyond the generally acknowledged diplomatic canons. The chief of that Foreign Ministry defined them as ‘incredible’. The vice- prime minister of Cambodia asked whether they wanted to cause a new ‘Arabic war’. The EU attitude was definitely supported by a Spanish EU MEP, who had been a minister of justice in the socialist government Zapatero in Spain before. What is peculiar, during our trip, the same EU MEP had to explain the destability of the political situation in his own country. For, at the same time, the Spanish court issued the European Order of Arresting the former prime minister of Catalonia and four members of his government. He was accused of, among the others, ‘rebellion’ and ‘subversive activity’. However, nobody from the Cambodian party, or the EU delegation, dared to compare those two facts. After all, Catalonia is not Campuchea, or whatever.