The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers rejects the accusation of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya published in the Nation and the ASTV Manager Online, respectively, on 14 February 2011, that Cambodia initiated the recent fighting near the Temple of Preah Vihear, and that the Temple was used as a base for the launching of attacks.
The Thai Prime Minister’s accusation defies logic and common sense. Cambodia has not sought to change the situation on the border, which has been internationally recognised for a century, and particularly since the International Court of Justice’s ruling of 1962. It is Thailand that has sought to change this reality; lacking any legal basis for such a change, it has now sought to create one by a military means.
Furthermore, Cambodia lacks the means to challenge Thailand militarily. Cambodia’s population is less than one-fourth of Thailand’s. Its GDP is about one-twentieth compared to Thai's GDP. Cambodia’s armed forces number about one-eighth of Thailand’s, and the latter are well-equipped with sophisticated weaponry, including modern air and navy forces, which Thailand has openly threatened to use against Cambodia.
In regard to the fighting on the border, it is the Thai Government that has sought to keep international public opinion in the dark. The Thai Prime Minister has also sought to prevent any neutral observers, and has even attempted to prevent a UNESCO delegation visiting the Temple of Preah Vihear to assess the damage caused by the Thai military. The Thai Government thus seeks to close the door to hide its past and ongoing aggression.
Cambodia highly appreciates the efforts of the United Nations Security Council to prevent new fighting, to prevent further civilian casualties and to protect the World Heritage Site in Cambodia, the Temple of Preah Vihear.
In supporting the ASEAN to mediate, the United Nations Security Council has put an end to the Thai Government’s policy of closing the door to the regional and international community, aiming at using the military strength to satisfy their long-planned territorial ambition. As the Thai Government well knows, bilateral discussions have led to nowhere, but to serve the Thai government’s intention of beating Cambodia behind the scene. While bilateral meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers was taking place in Siem Reap on 4 February 2011, the Thai army was also attacking Cambodia.
Cambodia welcomes the United Nations Security Council’s support for the ASEAN’s active mediation efforts to set up a mechanism, which can help prevent new attacks by Thailand. Furthermore, this ASEAN mechanism can create a transparent situation and build a mutual confidence; particularly to ensure the cessation of hostilities, should they occur, this ASEAN mechanism could identify the provocateur, and to witness whether Cambodia has military base capable of launching an alleged attack on Thailand. The mechanism should then be possible to proceed to a timely, peaceful and permanent resolution.
Phnom Penh, 15 February 2011
Press and Quick Reaction Unit