Thailand and Cambodia pledge friendship after ICJ ruling

1The leaders of Thailand and Cambodia pledged to maintain friendly relations and move forward following a ruling by the International Court of Justice last week concerning land surrounding the Phra Viharn temple – also known as Preah Vihear. Representatives of both countries said that their side had gained from the court’s decision, which was still being interpreted by diplomatic and legal teams in each land.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced that her government would set up a committee to work with Cambodia to implement the court’s ruling and find solutions that would benefit both countries to any problems that may remain. “As ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members, we have to rely on each other for prosperity,” the Prime Minister said, noting that the neighbors share an 800-kilometer-long border.

“Thailand and Cambodia have to hold talks under the existing mechanism to settle the dispute and seek mutually acceptable solution,” she said in a nationally televised press conference.  She also asked all Thais to be confident that the government would be at its best in protecting national interests.

Peace along the border would open up more possibilities for bilateral trade, investment and tourism as adjacent regions in both countries are home to many ancient temples that have rarely been visited because the area is relatively undeveloped.

Reading out the judgment at The Hague, Peter Tomka, president of the ICJ, said the court had decided “that Cambodia had sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear.” The promontory, however, is a small part of the 4.6-square kilometer area that is claimed by both countries. The ICJdid not rule on which country owned the rest of the disputed land, and encouraged both nations to enter into a dialogue to resolve the issues.

Preah Vihear, known as Phra Viharn in Thailand, is an 11th-century Hindu temple that sits on the border between the two countries and has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In a 1962 decision, the court awarded the temple to Cambodia based on a map from over 100 years ago drawn by France, which had colonized Cambodia and had been threatening Thailand, then known as Siam. Thailand has argued that it never accepted the map, but the court ruled that a lack of an official protest is de facto acceptance.

Following clashes in over the disputed area in 2011, Cambodia asked the ICJ to reinterpret the 1962 decision to confirm its sovereignty over the temple and also the disputed territory.



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