The relations between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the kingdom of Thailand must be based on the respect of the agreements signed by the representatives of the parties to the agreements. In 1904 and 1907, while Cambodia was under French protectorate, the agreements between France and Siam, namely the 1904 Convention and the 1907 Treaty in particular are binding under the international rule of law. In 2000, an MOU on the demarcation of land boundary was signed between Cambodia and Thailand, two sovereign nations, members of ASEAN, and members of the United Nations. The 2000 MOU is binding.
If all Thai politicians including Prime Minister Ahbisit Vejjajiva lead the Thai government with international dignity, by abiding themselves to the contents and spirits of all international agreements that exist and well in force, the relation between Cambodia and Thailand would be always a promising one for the development and peaceful interaction between Cambodians and Thais who live on both sides of the common border between the two nations, and between the two governments. But some Thai politicians including Abhisit Vejjajiva are traditionally nationalists or extreme nationalists with regard to the territorial ambition against Cambodia. This type of behavior is the cause of the conflicts and sometimes military clashes between the two nations. On July 15, 2008 Thai troops invaded Cambodia, occupied the territory in the vicinity of the Temple of Preah Vihear, including Keo Sikkha Kiri Svara pagoda. On 15 July 2008, Thai troops attacked Cambodian positions at Veal Intry, Phnom Trap and the Keo Sikkha Kiri Svara pagoda. On April 2009, Thai troops using heavy weapons attacked and burnt to the ground the market village situated next to the Northern staircase of the Temple of Preah Vihear causing unprecedented devastation to 319 Cambodian families, and damaging parts of the Temple of Preah Vihear.
The position of the Kingdom of Cambodia has been always clear and unequivocal that between Cambodia and Thailand there is a final and stable international boundary line delimited by the mixed commission composed of French and Siam officers, established under the provisions of the 1904 Convention, agreed and signed by France and Siam, recognized by France and Siam, and known to be such by world powers, many countries, and many maps publication societies at that time. Therefore, there is absolutely no “overlapping area or disputed area in the vicinity of the Temple of Preah Vihear, based on the “Dangrek Map,” known also as the ANNEX I map in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgments dated 15 June 1962. To that effect, Cambodia can exercise and express her sovereignty under any shape and form as she pleases on all the territory of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and especially on the Cambodian side of the boundary line drawn on the Dangrek Map or the ANNEX I map.
It is an insulting statement made by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva when he said, as reported by the Nation on 28 January, “If there is such flag (risen at the Keo Sikkha Kiri Svara pagoda), it needs to be taken down.” Abhisit Vejjajiva must retract this unacceptable statement, as this pagoda is about 300 meters west of the Temple of Preah Vihear, and about 700 meters from the boundary line inside Cambodia.
It has become customary in the relations between Cambodia and Thailand, that when Thailand falls into factional confrontation and internal squabbling between the government, the “yellow shirts” the Networks of Thai Patriots, the Santi Asoka Sect, or the “Red Shirts” the only thing that they can think of is to take Cambodia as hostage. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is doing the same thing when he made such an insulting and unacceptable statement which not only constitutes a clear provocative act, but also a casus belli for future aggression against Cambodia.
Senior Analyst and Researcher on
Institute for Internaitonal Affairs, Cambodia
28 January 2011