Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Address at the Inauguration of the Sign of Angkor World Heritage

Siem Reap, December 1st, 2008

H.E. Ms. Françoise Rivière, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Culture

H.E. Co-chair of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC)

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Compatriots,

It is my great pleasure to be here at the inauguration ceremony of the Sign of Angkor World Heritage which is a previous event showing to the world the national pride of Cambodian people and the greatness of long-standing and prosperous Khmer civilization.

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to take this opportunity to convey my warm welcome to H.E. Ms. Françoise Rivière, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, prominent representatives from the US and other members of the ICC, and all compatriots who are present at this ceremony.

As already stated by H.E. Sok An, Angkor Historical Park was inscribed on the list of World Heritage in Danger in 1992; and not until 2004, UNESCO decided to remove the word “In Danger” and dub it “Angkor World Heritage”. This decision stems from the Royal Government’s efforts and appropriate policy in conserving, developing and managing the site. Taking this great opportunity, I would like to praise the management, government’s officials at all levels and our compatriots for their efforts in providing full support and overcoming all challenges to undertake the government’s culture policy which aims at conducting study and conserving national identities; and by relying on this foundation to move toward culture and civilization development on the basis of “Development for Conservation” and “Conservation for Development” in order to transform our culture into a catalyst for sustainable economic growth.

Indeed, Cambodia is a young developing country comparing to other regional countries. However, our country has a long-dated history with prosperous civilization and culture. Khmer ancestors did not only leave us numerous temples, arts, traditional dances that have become Heritages of Humanity, they also left other priceless national identities.

So far, to strengthen our national identities, the Royal Government has worked closely with other countries in the region and the world. This move clearly notifies all Cambodian people of the necessity to communicate with the international community to conserve and disseminate our national culture. In this sense, the ceremony which is being held today represents another historic activity to promote global acknowledgement of the great culture and arts of our Khmer ancestors. This event is also to mobilize all kinds of cooperation financing for development by means of technical and financial support to the conservation, development and dissemination activities.

The inscription of Historical Site of Angkor on UNESCO’s Heritages of Humanity list constitutes the pride for the whole Cambodian society. Indeed, acknowledging the outstanding universal value of temples in the Historical Site of Angkor does not only mean that UNESCO acknowledges Khmer’s priceless civilization in the heart of all Cambodian people, this also implies that our civilization is being marked in the heart of history and archaeology enthusiasts and archaeologists across the globe.

We are already aware that Khmer civilization grew and expanded its influence in-between two flourishing civilizations in the history of humanity; namely India and China. Through their fantastic ability to adapt and extract the values of these two civilizations, Khmer ancestors could not only conserve their specific culture elements, but they could also enhance their culture and civilization by adapting foreign civilizations to their true Khmer identities throughout centuries of Khmer empire.

In this sprit, I would like to once again urge teachers, professors and scholars of all levels, ranging from high school to higher education level, to further explore unique characteristics of Khmer civilization in terms of tradition, culture, arts, and techniques. Specifically, we should explore their genuine techniques in creating lively attraction which is another masterpiece of art in urban management in the case of Angkor Thom, art of construction in the case of Bayon and Angkor Wat temples, al well as all kinds of sculpture in temples across the country as shown and displayed in various museums in Cambodia and abroad.

Along with this, the engineering of Khmer ancestors are singled out for their uniqueness in water resource management, attested by the presence of Western Reservoir (Baray) which is regarded as a incomparable masterpiece in the world since it is a huge water reservoir built by human to serve as water supply for people's needs and for agriculture.

I am delighted to remind all of this to make the priceless history of our ancestors and golden years come alive and last.

Indeed, Historical Site of Angkor is a vibrant reminder and bright lantern that are leading us on a concrete path to prosperous future.

During the first stage of the implementation of the Royal Government’s Rectangular Strategy, we have proudly achieved political stability, robust economic growth, macroeconomic stability, investment growth and increase in FDI in spite of unfavorable external factors such as global economic imbalance, global financial crisis and rising oil and food prices.

Along with that the Royal Government recognizes that Cambodia faces many challenges and obstacles in order to achieve the vision of the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II. However, based on the achievements we have made so far, the extensive potential of Cambodia, firm willingness and skills of Cambodian people with their learning abilities, experiences, the selection of necessary measures of the Royal Government and Cambodian People as a whole, and the right strategies we have put out, I strongly believe that Cambodia will be able to overcome the challenges and obstacles on a path to sustainable and equitable development.

In fact, the Historical Site of Angkor, World Heritage, has shown clearly that Cambodia used to be in a prosperous period in the past due to the working efforts and creativities of our ancestors. Therefore, Cambodia now could still show to the whole world our prosperity through works and creativities, which we all as the young generation have to continue. This is one of the development models we have actually taken from the history and various relics passed on by our ancestors. We are truly proud of what our ancestors have left, but please don’t forget our obligations for our next generations.

Along with this, I would also like to stress that not very long after the solemn celebration of this Angkor World Heritage, we are currently waiting for another splendid event to be held at Preah Vihear temple, which has been registered recently as a World Heritage. We will celebrate tremendously according to its wonderful value. The celebration will be celebrated at the sphere of Pheah Vihear temple, which is internationally recognized and valued as Cultural Property of Cambodia since 1962 and regarded as Precious Stones of Khmer until now.

The celebration now is the objective we have been moving forward to for so long under the road to sustainable development.

International visitors and observers have clearly known that at the Historical Site of Angkor and Siem Reap Province the Royal Government of Cambodia has been trying to ensure constant security to the people and property and we have been gradually providing high welfare and happiness to the people. The Ministry of Tourism, Apsara National Authority and other services of the Siem Reap Provincial Hall have been strengthened, improved and developed according to the objective although there are a lot of challenges to be solved.

The future of Angkor temple and the whole Siem Reap-Angkor Area will be the defining factor of Cambodian future, full of prosperity. In this context, the Royal Government has been trying tirelessly to cope with obstacles. It is clear that our obligations to especially, reduce poverty can not be actually done in short time or over night. We have to promote the implementation of the integrated actions with constant sustainability in all pillars in order to achieve the vision of building Cambodian society of peace, political stability, security and social order, sustainable and equitable development, highly knowledgeable and well-educated people, better living condition with harmonization in both national folds and families.

The Development and preservation of culture and civilization is the endless work, requiring on-going efforts from the Royal Government, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, relevant Ministries/Institutions, National and International Organizations, especially private sector. In this sense, I hope that all relevant institutions including non-governmental organizations and civil society will intensively contribute to the cultural preservation and development.

Once again, I would like to express appreciation to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and relevant institutions of the Royal Government, private sector, people from all over the country, international organizations as well as non-governmental organizations, especially UNESCO, for having significantly contributed to preserve Cambodian culture. The socio-economic development of Cambodia, especially the enhancement of the national culture really needs cooperation with honesty, equity with equal rights and mutual interest amongst nations in the region as well as in the world for the sake of peace, democracy, respect of human rights and dignity of human being, and the progress and living with harmonization in multi-cultural and-racial contexts.

At the end, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Distinguished Guests and all Compatriots with family happiness, all kinds of success and safe stay with good memories in our glory land of Angkor in Siem Reap.


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