Temple conflict simmers
Posted Date:Friday, 29-Jun-2012
BANGKOK, 28 June 2012: Thailand has submitted additional written explanations to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to counter Cambodia’s petition requesting the court to interpret its 1962 Preah Vihear temple verdict.
Thailand’s Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs general director, Rachanant Thananant, said the Thai Ambassador to the Hague, Virachai Plasia, submitted the explanations to the ICJ 21 June.
“This was the second round of written explanations as required by the world court,” he said.
In April 2011, Cambodia asked the ICJ to clarify and interpret its 1962 ruling on Preah Vihear.
The court ruled in 1962 that the ancient Hindu temple belonged to Cambodia, but did not define the boundaries of the area surrounding the structure, which has led to sporadic clashes between the two armies.
Thailand’s latest 380-page explanation was published in two books with supporting documents and maps.
In its summary, Thailand counter claimed that Cambodia did not have the legal grounds to ask the court to interpret the earlier decision, and was in effect making an appeal over court’s decision. In the past, it claimed the court rejected attempts to appeal the 1962 ruling.
“The court is expected to decide whether it will deliberate the case or not by 2013,” Mr Rachnant explained.
The court last July ordered both Thailand and Cambodia to immediately withdraw their military personnel from the so-called demilitarised zone and urged both countries to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to reach an agreement allowing regional bloc’s observers to enter the disputed zone.
The two countries were also ordered to revive their stalled talks to resolve the conflict. Both must report development to the court until a decision on Cambodia’s main request for interpretation of the 1962 order is finalised.
The delays in settling the issue are frowned on by tourism officials in both countries who see the temple as a major revenue earning attractions. Tour operators generally agree that as long as the two countries squabble over the territory the less they will benefit. They claim that Thailand’s Northeast and the poor provinces in Cambodia adjacent to the temple need tourism to build economic growth as there is a lack of attractions to draw tourists.
The temple was possibly the most popular stop on combination tours that took in visits to the heritage sites of Northeast Thailand and ended at Siem Reap with a visit to Angkor Wat.