Thai PM: Ambiguity in Cambodia’s draft resolution prompted Thailand to leave World Heritage Convention

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BANGKOK, June 26 – Thailand’s withdrawal from the World Heritage Convention and World Heritage Committee (WHC) is in accordance with his Cabinet’s resolution, because ambiguity in the Cambodian draft resolution is unacceptable, said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday.

Before going to the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani for the Democrat Party’s election campaign, Mr Abhisit said that he spoke many times on Saturday regarding this issue with the head of Thai delegates to the WHC meeting in Paris, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

The draft resolution proposed by Cambodia has ambiguous words which are unacceptable, therefore Thailand decided to pull out of the WHC, he said.

The issue will be handled by the new government. In the meantime, UNESCO could discuss it with Thailand, but the restoration of the Preah Vihear temple, if it involves Thai territory, must need approval from Thailand, Mr Abhisit said.

The Thai prime minister stated that Thailand’s position is clear, that Cambodia must pull its troops from the ancient Hindu temple, as the action violates the World Heritage Convention.

Mr Abhisit also stated that UNESCO director-general had maintained to Thailand that they would not consider the management plan at this time.

However, the temple management consideration was still on the agenda with Cambodia’s draft resolution, Mr Suwit said he submitted a letter of notification regarding Thailand’s withdrawal to the United Nations‪ Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) director-general Irina Bokova and the head of the World Heritage Centre. Ms Bokova later expressed regret with Thailand’s decision to leave the World Heritage Convention and the World Heritage Committee.

He mentioned that many delegates and executive members of the WHC tried to convince the Thai delegation to change their minds, but several understood Thailand’s reasoning, which has maintained a position that the consideration would not be raised until the border demarcation with Cambodia was completed.

The status of Thailand’s five World Heritage sites remains unchanged. However, if there are any changes in the future, it is not so worrying since the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning has planned to announce the national heritage area and systematic management plan for them, said Mr Suwit.

The Thai delegation is scheduled to arrive back home on Monday. (MCOT online news)