Changing governments will not change Preah Vihear policy: Foreign Ministry


BANGKOK, June 7 – Changing the Thai government after the July 3 general election would have no impact on Thailand’s ability or attitude toward contesting the legal case over the ancient Preah Vihear temple with Cambodia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as clear outlines have been put in place, according to Thai foreign ministry officials.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Thani Thongphakdi and Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs Dir Gen Ittiporn Boonprakong on Monday briefed the media on the oral hearing at the ICJ in The Hague regarding Cambodia’s request for indication of provisional measures.

Mr Ittiporn said that even though a new government may take office, there will be no change in Thailand’s approach to fighting the case as the country’s position has already been determined in the beginning regarding legal aspects and facts.

However, the Thai stance may be adjusted in accordance with the new government’s policy, and some issues may be added or removed depending on the new administration’s policy as to what would give the most benefit to the country.

The two-day oral hearing of the Thai legal team at ICJ late last month to consider Cambodia’s request for provisional measures demanding withdrawal of Thai troops from the area of Preah Vihear temple was only the first round of the legal battle, said the chief of Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs.

Thailand has rebutted the Cambodian request for provisional measures pending the Court’s interpretation of the 1962 judgement on the case concerning Preah Vihear.

“After the court makes a decision over provisional measure, it will start processing on the interpretation of the 1962 judgement,” he said, adding that Thailand should be careful in any activities at the Thai-Cambodian border as the ICJ had closely monitored movement of the two countries.

In 1962, the court ruled that Preah Vihear temple is situated in Cambodia. Thailand complied with the ruling but argued that the verdict covered only the sandstone ruins while the area around it belonged to Thailand. Cambodia recently asked the ICJ to interpret its 1962 judgement to establish if the land in the temple’s vicinity also belonged to it.

Relations between the two neighbouring countries have been strained in recent years after UNESCO named the ancient Preah Vihear temple a World Heritage site in July 2008 after Cambodia applied for the status. The country also submitted a management plan for the temple to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee which has deferred making a decision.

Bloody clashes have occurred along the poorly demarcated border occasionally as both countries claim a 4.6-square-kilometre patch of land near the 11th-century Hindu temple.