Phnom Penh (FN), March 24 – The Ministry of Commerce is calling a press conference organized by civil society organizations harmful to Cambodia’s reputation, social order, peace, unity, and reconciliation.

The Ministry's statement followed a joint press conference held by ActionAid Cambodia, Equitable Cambodia, Heinrich Boll Stiftung Cambodia, and Adhoc to solve economic land concessions disputes with the sugarcane industry on Tuesday.

The conference was entitled "The Bitter Taste of Sugarcane in Cambodia: Forced Departure and Land Tenures Revocation in Oddar Meanchey ”.

During the conference, the civil society organizations expressed the concerns of citizens as a result of land acquisitions by companies including: Angkor Sugar, Cambodia Cane and Sugar Valley, and Tonle Sugar Cane in Samrong District, Oddar Meanchey province.

In response to the NGOs suggestions, the ministry issued a statement on Thursday that the ministry will seek a compromise for investment groups and the people.

The government assigned a special group to cooperate with EU embassy in Cambodia and inter-institutional working groups to solve economic land concessions for sugarcane exports.

According to the statement, the special working group and EU Ambassador to Cambodia have met six times.

They agreed upon Terms of Reference (TOR) on June 12, 2016 and the proposed facilitation and counseling from from the provincial authorities and relevant institutions.

“The spirit above portrayed the will of the government in solving transparent solution for victims of economic land concession,” according to the statement.

The ministry also threatened to take legal actions against those who joined the protest, but are not victims of economic land concessions.

In 2008, the government provided 19,736 hectares of land in Samrong District to Cambodia Cane and Sugar Valley and Tonle Sugar Cane.

The report from the NGOs stated that the project had affected 2,073 families in 26 villages.