Scholar Says Share Preah Vihear With Thailand

Preah Vihear temple should become split territory between Cambodia and Thailand so that both countries can be considered “winners” in the dispute over the temple, two experts on Thailand wrote in an opinion article printed Tuesday in The Bangkok Post.

Using the European micro-state Andorra, nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, as an example, a German scho­lar and a German journalist said that the 4.6 square km around the 11th-century temple should be equally ruled over by the King of Thailand and King Norodom Sihamoni.

“Thailand could put forward a plan that would be the perfect face-saving solution for both parties,” Vol­ker Grabowsky, professor for Thai studies at the University of Ham­burg, and Rene Gralla, who is de­scribed as an expert on international law, argue in The Bangkok Post.

Next month, the Inter­national Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected to re­­lease an interpretation of its 1962 de­cision, which says that the temple and its “vicinity” are part of Cambodia.

In 2011, fighting erupted over the temple, and a cease-fire was agreed upon in April that year, when the Cambodian government requested that the ICJ explain whether “vicinity” meant the 4.6 square km around the temple or a smaller area.

Instead of waiting for the ICJ’s ruling, which, the authors said, will likely be in favor of Cambodia, Thailand should suggest that the whole area be equally ruled by both countries, similar to the monarchy of Andorra.

“[Andorra] is the result of a unique compromise putting an end to a bitter quarrel over 468 sq km of rugged terrain,” which is co-ruled by the Spanish Bishop of Urgell and the President of France, the authors wrote.

“In practical terms it would mean there will be proclaimed the independent state of ‘Preah Vihear-Phra Viharn’ on a territory of slightly less than 5 sq km,” the op-ed suggests.

Phay Siphan, spokesperson for the Council of Ministers, said that the opinion article was an attempt to influence public opinion.

“There will not be a joint management, no, we will not do this…it is a baseless idea and a manipulative information,” Mr. Siphan said Tuesday.

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