The Prime Minister pledges that he will oppose the move to list Preah Vihear Temple as a world-heritage site and is confident that a Thai delegation will be able to find a compromise with the Cambodian government on the issue.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that the government will continue to campaign against the inclusion of Preah Vihear Temple in the UNESCO world heritage list while keeping an eye on sensitive issues between Thailand and Cambodia.
The application for world-heritage status for ancient Khmer temple had been submitted earlier by the Cambodian government.
Abhisit added that he believes Thai delegates, led by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, will be able to reach a peaceful a resolution with the Cambodian government on the proposed listing and border conflicts.
The premier reiterated that the Thai government wants to clarify to its Cambodian counterpart that it does not intend to claim rights to the disputed area along the Thai-Cambodian border, especially around Preah Vihear Temple.
He also stated that both parties should refrain from any activities in the disputed area.
Meanwhile, Suthep said he intends to clarify to Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen that the issue is a matter between Thailand and UNESCO, the world heritage committee. He said Thailand has no intention to have a conflict with Cambodia and he believes the Cambodian prime minister also prefers not to see a conflict between the two countries.
Suthep admitted that the situation has been tense along the Thai-Cambodian border. However, he is confident there will be no violence.
Hun Sen has agreed to meet Suthep and his team in hope of improving the relationship of the two countries.
Suthep and his entourage are scheduled to travel to Cambodia on June 27.
Preah Vihear move is about border rights, PM says
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday he wanted to keep the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and international involvement away from Preah Vihear temple.
Cabinet’s move to maintain its objection to World Heritage listing for the site, which it achieved last year, was just reserving Thailand’s right to handle boundary demarcation with Cambodia, he said.
Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Cambodia in 2000 not to make any change in regard to “overlapping” areas claimed by both countries before the completion of demarcation, he said.
“As the temple is listed as World Heritage, there will be more hands involved, which is contrary to the MoU,” Abhisit told reporters before leaving for China.
The historic cliff-top temple has been a point of conflict between Thailand and Cambodia for years.
The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple belonged to Cambodia but Thailand argues that the court ruling did not cover adjacent land. Both countries claimed an area of 4.6 square kilometres near the temple.
Thailand’s objection to the World Heritage listing stirred anger from Phnom Penh as the move delays its plan to develop the site.
Cambodia has yet to convene an international coordination committee to develop Preah Vihear, as Thailand has not decided whether to join the panel to run the site with seven other parties.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban will visit Phnom Penh on Saturday to explain its stance to Hun Sen, the Cambodian premier.
Abhisit hoped Suthep would be able to calm Hun Sen down and reduce tension at the site.
Disputes over Preah Vihear led to fighting near the border temple in October last year and in April, which saw several soldiers killed on both sides.
Cambodia had boosted its forces in the conflict area since the latest moves, Second Army Region Commander Wiboonsak Neeparn said. “We have to adjust our troops to get ready but as I talk to my Cambodian counterpart, we don’t use force to solve the problem,” he said yesterday.
Chulalongkorn University academic Chaiwat Khamchoo said the government’s objection to Cambodia’s plan would not benefit Thailand but only created conflict with its neighbour.
Somchai Phetprasert, chairman of House committee on military affairs, accused the government of pushing the country nearer to war. Prime Minister Abhisit should talk with Cambodia about a joint nomination for the temple, Somchai said.
“Prime Minister Abhisit might be confused over the boundary. The Unesco won’t deal with the boundary issue but will help to protect the site in Cambodia,” he said.
By The Nation
Published on June 25, 2009
Cambodian premier refuses to discuss border plan with Thai deputy PM
Phnom Penh – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday he would refuse to discuss a Thai plan for the neighboring countries to jointly administer an 11th-century Hindu ruined temple in a disputed border region during the Thai deputy prime minister’s visit Saturday.
“It is not necessary for us to discuss this plan because this is a Thai suggestion and has nothing to do with Cambodia,” he said in his speech at a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh. “But if he wishes to discuss Thailand withdrawing its troops from our soil, then we will talk about that.”
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said last week he would ask UNESCO, which administers the Preah Vihear temple under Cambodian supervision, to launch a review of the administration of the World Heritage-listed site.
He said shared supervision of the site would ensure “the two countries can jointly benefit from this site of high historical importance.”
Thailand planned to submit the proposal at a UNESCO committee meeting in Spain this week, provoking condemnation from Hun Sen and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.//DPA
THAI MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?
Suthep unlikely to achieve border breakthrough with Hun Sen
Cambodian PM ‘won’t listen’ to talk of joint registration of site
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban will likely face a tough stance from Cambodian Premier Hun Sen when they meet in Phnom Penh tomorrow to discuss the Preah Vihear Temple.
Suthep was assigned by Prime Minsiter Abhisit Vejjajiva, who is currently on an official visit to China, to discuss the sensitive issue with the Cambodian leader, who yesterday seemed to reject any comprehensive peace talks with Thailand.
Tensions have escalated at the Thai-Cambodian border, with Thailand’s Second Army Area commander Lt General Wiboonsak Neeparn having rotated troops at Preah Vihear so that they are fresh and ready for a possible attack from Cambodia.
Cambodia has already boosted its presence in the border area.
Wiboonsak said his forces would exercise utmost restraint to prevent a military clash with Cambodia for the safety of Thai residents in the area.
Reflecting his tough position, Hun Sen was quoted by China’s official Xinhua news agency as saying: “I will not listen to him [Suthep] about a clarification of jointly developing and jointly registering Preah Vihear Temple.
“But if he talks about the withdrawal of Thai troops from our soil, we can talk and welcome him.”
“This is my message for him before he decides to visit Cambodia,” Hun Sen said during a graduation ceremony at a university in Phnom Penh.
The controversial Hindu temple came under the spotlight again after the Thai Cabinet decided last week to maintain its objection to the site’s World Heritage status, even though it was listed last July.
Bangkok’s move has disappointed Phnom Penh, whose plan for safeguarding and developing the site has been delayed.
Cambodia also cannot convene a meeting of the International Coordination Committee scheduled since February, as Thailand has been reluctant to accept an invitation to sit on the panel.
Suthep is due to visit Phnom Penh tomorrow to explain the Thai position that it has no gripe with Cambodia, but has a problem with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
Abhisit said on Wednesday that his government’s move was aimed at preventing Unesco and other countries from getting involved in the areas claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia.
Natural Resource and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti attended the 33rd meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Spain this week to reaffirm the Thai stance, but Cambodian media reported that the committee had dismissed the Thai complaint.
Thailand also expressed its desire to participate in a joint nomination of Preah Vihear, but Hun Sen said the temple belongs to Cambodia, according to the 1962 verdict of the International Court of Justice.
Thailand is not a co-owner of that property, he said, asserting that the Preah Vihear Temple is now humanity’s heritage.
The territorial dispute over Preah Vihear began when the World Heritage Committee decided last July to have the popular tourist attraction inscribed on its list of World Heritage sites, causing discontent among Thai nationalists and the then-opposition Democrat Party.
The dispute ignited two border skirmishes in October and April, which left at least four soldiers on both sides dead.
Cambodia wants all troops withdrawn from the overlapping areas.
The National Park of Phra Viharn, which is the gateway to Preah Vihear from the Thai side, has been closed for security reasons since the April clash.
A plan to reopen it next month has been suspended for an indefinite period, said Kasemsan Jinnawaso, director-general of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.
By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
Published on June 26, 2009
Bangkok Post– Govt renews Preah Vihear push