Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thailand 'to comply' with ICJ ruling on Preah Vihear

Thailand is willing to comply with the injunction or any provisional measures on the Preah Vihear case that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivers on July 18, foreign minister's secretary Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday.

"But for the sake of justice, we hope the court rejects Cambodia's request," Chavanond said after meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on the matter.

Kasit will be present with a Thai delegation to hear the verdict at The Hague's Peace Palace, he said.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong will also be present, spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.

Phnom Penh has asked the court to clarify the scope and meaning of the 1962 ruling on Preah Vihear. As it awaits the interpretation, it has also asked the court to set provisional measures forcing Thailand to withdraw its troops, banning them from any military activities in the area or taking any action that could violate Cambodia's rights.

During a court hearing in May, Thai representative Virachai Plasai argued that the Kingdom had fully complied with the court's ruling since 1962, and thus the case had no grounds and should be removed.

In 1962, the court ruled that Preah Vihear Temple was on land that came under the sovereignty of Cambodia and ordered Thai troops and personnel to withdraw from the temple and its vicinity.

Though Thailand complied with the ruling, it continued insisting that the land surrounding the temple came under its sovereignty and hence Cambodia could not use the area in relation to Preah Vihear's World Heritage designation.

The two countries have been at loggerheads over the area adjacent to the temple since Cambodia got the temple listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008. The Abhisit government made several attempts over the past few years to block Cambodia from managing the ancient temple.

The dispute caused border skirmishes in the area near the temple in 2008, 2009, and again this year, which claimed more than a dozen lives on both sides. Even now, the troops are ready for a confrontation.

On April 28, Cambodia asked the court to clarify the 1962 ruling because bilateral mechanisms had failed to settle the conflict.

Chavanond anticipates that the court will issue one of the following temporary measures: granting Cambodia's request; rejecting it; or delivering a different order that both countries are legally obliged to comply with.

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