For Vietnam – Cambodia borderline of peace, friendship, cooperation and development

Monday, 2019-10-07 18:11:04
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At the signing ceremony of legal documents on border issues between Vietnam and Cambodia in Hanoi on October 5, 2019. (Photo: baoquocte.vn)
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NDO – Border and sovereignty are always sacred issues for each nation. A delimited borderline that was clearly marked in the field and recognised by international legal documents will create favourable condition for the management and maintaining of security and defence in bordering areas, contributing to the socio-economic development as well as enhancing exchange, friendship and cooperation among neighbouring countries.

With the foreign policy of independence, autonomy, peace, cooperation and development, Vietnam always wishes to work with neighbouring countries in building common borderlines of peace, friendship, cooperation and development in order to maintain a peaceful and stable environment for national development.

Vietnam and Cambodia – good neighbours

Vietnam and Cambodia are two neigbouring countries with a long history of relations. During the struggles for national independence, the peoples from the two countries always stand shoulder to shoulder. Especially, President Ho Chi Minh and Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk shared a very friendly and close relationship. Forty years ago, with the support from Vietnamese volunteers, Cambodian Revolutionary Government led the people to overthrow the over the Pol Pot genocidal regime, establishing the People's Republic of Kampuchea (now the Kingdom of Cambodia). Since then, the two countries have affirmed that their solidarity in the struggle as well as the long-standing friendship and cooperation in all fields were factors meeting the vital interests of the two peoples. In addition to constantly strengthening and consolidating the friendship and cooperation, the two sides have always respected the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, legitimate interests, non-interference in internal affairs of each other, equality and mutual benefits.

The two nations have implemented many bilateral cooperation mechanisms annually to fulfil high-level agreements between the two countries and deploy specific cooperation plans, developing the bilateral relations in a comprehensive and practical manner. Notably, with the participation of ministries, branches and localities, high-level mechanisms, such as the Joint Committee on economic, cultural, scientific and technological cooperation (with 17 meetings) and the Conference on Cooperation and Development of Border Provinces (11 meetings) showed the great interests and efforts from the two sides in enhancing their cooperation. The two countries have promoted the close coordination at regional and international forums, particularly the United Nations, ASEAN, ASEM and the Mekong sub-region in order to maintain a peaceful and stable environment in the region and enhance the ASEAN's solidarity, self-resilience.

During the development process of Vietnam – Cambodia ties over the past 40 years, with joint great and tireless efforts, the two sides have gradually solved many issues left by history, including border and territory-related issues. Over nearly four decades, Vietnam and Cambodia have worked hard together to settle border issues, especially the implementation of land border demarcation. The efforts have brought about important results, with the recent Conference to review the land border demarcation and marker planting during 2016-2019 period and the signing ceremony of legal documents recognising the achievements in border demarcation in Hanoi on October 5.

Vietnam – Cambodia land border demarcation

During the feudal dynasties, the historical borders between Vietnam and Cambodia had been formed, but they were basically only regional boundaries. During the colonial period, the two countries’ border has seen changes due to the adjustment of the French Governor-General of Indochina. After France withdrew from the Indochina in 1954, the entire land boundary line between the two countries was drawn relatively completely on the Bonne map 1/100,000 published by the Indochinese Department of Geography.

Between 1954 and 1977, the two sides held some negotiations on border issues, but to no avail. Following the birth of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK), the two nations signed the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation on February 18, 1979. On the basis of the Treaty, Vietnam and Cambodia negotiated and signed the Treaty on Principles of Settling the Border Issues between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) and the PRK on July 20, 1983 and the Treaty on the Delimitation of National Boundary between the SRV and the PRK on December 27, 1985 (the 1985 Treaty for short).

Under the 1985 Treaty, the two sides began to implement land border demarcation in 1986, with 322 landmarks expected to be planted; however, the work was suspended due to several reasons in early 1989. Since 1999, the negotiations on the land border have been resumed and the Supplementary Treaty to the 1985 Treaty on the Delimitation of the National Boundary (The 2005 Supplementary Treaty for short) between the SRV and the Kingdom of Cambodia was inked on October 10, 2005. Accordingly, they adjusted the border delimitation in some areas and reach consensus on the implementation of landmark demarcation on the whole line.

Implementing the 1985 Treaty and the 2005 Supplementary Treaty, the two countries resumed the land border demarcation work in 2006. Both sides agreed to plant auxiliary markers and poles to clarify the direction of the border line in the field. So far, the two nations have demarcated around 1,045 km of the border line, built 2,047 landmarks at 1,553 locations in the field, accounting for 84% of workload.

The above outcomes were showed in detail in two state-level international treaties signed by Vietnam and Cambodia in Hanoi on October 5, 2019, namely: The Supplementary Treaty to the 1985 Treaty on the Delimitation of the National Boundary and the 2005 Supplementary Treaty between the SRV and the Kingdom of Cambodia (The 2019 Supplementary Treaty) and The Protocol on the Demarcation and Marker Planting of the Land Boundary between the SRV and the Kingdom of Cambodia (The Land Boundary Demarcation Protocol for short).

For the remaining 16% of un-demarcated border, both sides expressed their determination to resolve the issue in the spirit of active cooperation to move to the phase of settling the delimitation of the sea area.

Important achievements

The signing of the 2019 Supplementary Treaty and the Land Boundary Demarcation Protocol was an important event in the relations between Vietnam and Cambodia and a historical milestone in the process of land border settlement between the two countries after over 36 years of negotiations.

The event asserted the common goals towards building a borderline of peace, stability, friendship, cooperation and sustainable development, on the basis of respect for each other's independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and legitimate interests, equality and mutual benefits, contributing to constantly strengthening the good neighbourliness and traditional friendship, for the sake and prosperity of the two peoples.

The signing of the above documents between Vietnam and Cambodia showed that with the goodwill, determination, responsibility, trust and joint efforts, the difficult issues like the territorial boundary can be completely addressed on the basis of international law. The common achievements between Vietnam and Cambodia also contributed significantly to consolidating and enhancing the solidarity among ASEAN as well as improving the ASEAN's prestige and position in the international arena.

In order to achieve these achievements, under the close attention and direction from the high-level leaders of the two countries, the Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Committee on Land Border Demarcation and Marker Planting and forces directly involved in the border demarcation, the two sides have overcome many difficulties and hassles in the work, including the contradiction on topography between the map and the field; the rugged terrain in the mountainous border areas, swampy areas in the plains, harsh weather and difficult transportation. In addition, there have been difficulties left by history and some forces have taken unfair advantage of border-related issues for negative political purposes, against the friendship, desire and interests of the two nations.

The achievements have been considered as a deep reward for the previous generations who have devoted their efforts and intellect to the cause of border and territory; as well as the gratitude to people in the country and expatriates abroad for their attention and support to the border work in particular and national construction and defence in general.

Once the two legal documents are approved by the competent authorities from the two countries, take effect and are put into practice, the two sides will conduct the border management according to the results recorded in the Land Boundary Demarcation Protocol while maintaining the current management for undelimited areas in line with the 2005 Supplementary Treaty. The two countries should also build and sign a Treaty to replace the 1983 Treaty soon to suit the new situation to ensure political security and social order and safety in the border areas, thus creating favourable conditions for the exchanges in all aspects between the authorities and people of border areas in particular and the two countries in general.

The above important achievements will create an important motivation for both sides to continue their negotiations to address the remaining 16% of the border marker workload, towards building a complete Vietnam – Cambodia land border line of peace, friendship, cooperation and development, in line with the motto of ‘good neigbours, traditional friendship, and comprehensive and long-term cooperation’.

PHAM BINH MINH
Politburo member, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister