Thailand Praises Progress on Preah Vihear Temple

The Thai Embassy on July 1 congratulated Cambodia for the pro­gress it has made toward listing Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site, and described the temple as “a symbol of lasting friendships” between the two countries.

The embassy’s statement followed claims in Bangkok’s Eng­lish-language press that the World Heritage Committee—whose secretariat is managed by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cul­tural Organization—did not in­clude the temple on its World Heritage Site list during its annual meeting in New Zea­land during the week of June due to concerns raised by the Thai delegation.

The Nation newspaper reported Friday that Thailand ar­gued that the border around the temple had yet to be demarcated and that a joint management plan for the area was still under discussion.

Though the committee did not list the temple, it did acknowledge the temple’s “outstanding universal value” and regarded the process of put­ting it on the list as “in pro­gress,” the Thai Embassy said in the statement dated June 29.

“In this regard, Thailand wishes to offer her congratulations to the World Heritage Committee, to Cambodia and the Cambodian people,” the statement said.

The statement also said that Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to cooperate on the preservation of the site.

The Nation reported June 29 that, following the committee’s decision, Thai authorities are watching out for anti-Thai riots similar to those during which the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh was burned down in January 2003.

Chaturont Chaiyakam, first secretary at the Thai Embassy, said by telephone July 1 that this was false.

He declined to say whether the Thai delegation raised concerns about the temple being put on the World Heritage list, referring questions on the matter back to the embassy statement.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith said June 29 that the decision by the committee to postpone the listing of Preah Vihear temple for at least one more year was due to technical issues re­garding zoning.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu So­pheak said July 1 that, regardless of whether or not Thailand was instrumental in preventing Preah Vihear from being on the list, the temple belongs to Cambodia ac­cording to international law.

Unesco Country Representative Teruo Jinnai could not be reached for comment.


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