Monday, April 22, 2013
Cambodia, Thailand to keep calm over border row regardless of ICJ’s decision
Publish By Thomas Whittle
PHNOM PENH, April 22 — Cambodia and Thailand will continue maintaining peace along the border regardless of the forthcoming decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case concerning the hotly-disputed land of 4.6 square kilometers around Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple, a senior Cambodian official said Monday.
“Let the ICJ make a judgment in the case,” deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport upon his arrival from the Hague, the Netherlands, where Cambodia and Thailand last week delivered oral statements to the ICJ in the case of the disputed land.
“In recent past, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had talked with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and I had talked with Thai foreign minister (Surapong Tovichakchaikul) that whatever the ICJ’s decision on the case would be, we agreed to keep calm and comply with the court’s decision quietly,” he said.
The Hague-based ICJ awarded Cambodia the Preah Vihear Temple, and its vicinity on June 15, 1962, but Thailand, in 2008, claimed the ownership of 4.6 square kilometers of scrub next to the temple.
Sporadic armed clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops had occurred since July 2008 when the UNESCO listed Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site and deadly clashes burst out in large scales in February and April 2011 during the rule of former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
However, military tensions have eased since August 2011 when ex- Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party won a general election and led the current government.
Cambodia asked the ICJ in April 2011 to interpret the judgment of June 15, 1962 in the case concerning the Preah Vihear Temple. In July 2011, the court ordered Cambodia and Thailand to withdraw their military personnel from the court-defined Provisional Demilitarized Zone of 17.3 square kilometers surrounding the temple in order to secure a ceasefire.
Last week, the ICJ began a week of oral hearings in the dispute over ownership of the 4.6 kilometer land adjoining the temple, and the court is expected to issue a decision on who owns the disputed land around the Preah Vihear Temple later this year.
“Let’s wait to hear the interpretation of the 1962 judgment — the exact date is not set by the court yet, but it will be made before the end of this year,” Hor Namhong said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen hailed the Cambodian legal team for “job well done” in the Hague.
Cambodia asked the ICJ to interpret the 1962 verdict, while Thailand insisted the court not to interpret the verdict.
The premier predicted that the ICJ would interpret the 1962 judgment based on two points.
One point is that the ICJ ordered Cambodia and Thailand to withdraw military personnel from the court-defined Provisional Demilitarized Zone in July 2011, so the court cannot keep the demilitarized zone for years, and the other is that a judge at the ICJ asked Cambodia and Thailand to define the vicinity of Preah Vihear temple on maps or graphics of the area and show it to the court.
The court required a reply in written form from both sides by April 26, and the parties would have to submit responses to each other’s definitions by May 3.
“Whatever the court’s decision will be, Cambodia and Thailand will not become enemies to each other because Cambodia and Thailand are like tongue and teeth, it cannot be removed from each other,” he said.
The 11th century Preah Vihear Temple is located on the top of a 525-meter cliff in the Dangrek Mountains. It is situated about 500 km northwest of Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.