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08BANGKOK3234 THAI PARLIAMENT APPROVES FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT TO ADDRESS BORDER DISPUTE WITH CAMBODIA

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“175691”,”10/29/2008 9:40″,”08BANGKOK3234″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK2487|08BANGKOK3227″,”VZCZCXRO7796

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“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003234

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

NSC FOR PHU

PARIS PASS USMISSION UNESCO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PBTS, TH, CB

SUBJECT: THAI PARLIAMENT APPROVES FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT TO

ADDRESS BORDER DISPUTE WITH CAMBODIA

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 3227

B. BANGKOK 2487

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission James F. Entwistle, reasons 1.4

(b) and (d)

 

1. (C) Summary. The Thai Parliament October 28 approved the

August 19 Thai-Cambodian Foreign Ministers\’ Agreement that

provides an interim framework to address the border conflict

prior to final resolution. Thailand can now legally proceed

through the Foreign Ministry-led Joint Border Commission

(JBC) with bilateral negotiations to try to resolve the

dispute centered on the Preah Vihear temple, as well as

settling other outstanding border locations not yet

demarcated. Article 190 of the 2007 Thai Constitution had

restricted the RTG\’s ability to engage Cambodia on the border

dispute according to the terms of the interim agreement prior

to parliamentary approval, and MFA fears of the impact of

Article 190 on its ability to conduct normal diplomatic

activities will likely act as an ongoing brake on Thai

diplomacy across the board.

 

2. (C) Comment. We are encouraged by positive reports of

Thai-Cambodian meetings in Beijing (ref A) but remain

cautious regarding the chances for quick resolution to the

border dispute. The October 24 meeting on the margins of

ASEM in Beijing between Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat

and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hun Sen, as well as concurrent

meetings in Cambodia between local military commanders, eased

tensions and provided for a more positive atmosphere for

talks to address the border dispute. However, it remains to

be seen whether the JBC can make real progress in addressing

the difficult issues that lie at the heart of the matter.

Continued political conflict in Bangkok may make tough

decisions more difficult for the Thai government, as it will

likely continue to be distracted and circumspect in

negotiations for fear of being criticized by the

anti-government camp; no doubt the Thai fear that such

hesitancy may be interpreted by the Cambodian side as

weakness to be exploited. End Summary and comment.

 

THAI PARLIAMENT APPROVES FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT

——————————————–

 

3. (C) A combined session of the Thai House and Senate late

October 28 approved by a vote of 409 to 7 an August 19

framework agreement by then-Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag

and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong. The framework

agreement designates the JBC as the primary mechanism to

resolve the ongoing border dispute which has been centered on

disputed territory near the Preah Vihear temple. The

framework agreement also endorsed ongoing military talks

through the Regional Border Committee. As reported in ref A,

Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat told the Ambassador

that he and Hor Namhong planned to meet again soon after

Parliamentary approval of the agreement.

 

4. (C) The JBC will now attempt to work contentious issues

involving not only disputed territory to the northwest of the

Preah Vihear temple, but a series of disputed areas along the

Thai-Cambodian border. In recent months, the Thai and

Cambodian governments have exchanged allegations of

stationing troops on land, primarily in and around ancient

Khmer empire-era temples, that each nation claims as its own.

While dispute over the area near the Preah Vihear temple

involves overlapping claims, the basis of the other

Thai-Cambodian border disputes typically involve the location

of 73 boundary markers on the border, only 50 of which are

fixed by joint agreement. With many potential areas of

disagreement, the JBC may have a tough time resolving the

border disputes in any short period of time. Many Thai

 

BANGKOK 00003234 002 OF 002

 

expect the process to take years. (The French Embassy here

tells us Paris has offered technical assistance, such as

satellite imagery, to support the process but emphasizes they

are not in any way offering to mediate.)

 

ARTICLE 190 COMPLICATED EFFORTS TO ADDRESS BORDER DISPUTE

——————————————— ————

 

5. (C) While the Thai Foreign Ministry and military officials

have both publicly and privately affirmed RTG intention to

resolve the problem bilaterally through negotiations,

parliamentary approval to engage according to the terms of

the framework agreement was necessary due to Article 190 of

the 2007 Thai constitution. MFA officials reiterated to us

October 27 that the Ministry interprets Article 190 as

requiring Parliamentary approval for any agreement which

potentially affects Thai territory or security, the

government\’s budgetary commitments, or the social and

economic affairs of the country.

 

6. (C) MFA Spokesman and Director-General of the Department

of Information Tharit Charungvat said Article 190 was

primarily to blame for the misunderstanding between Thailand

and Cambodia on pending border talks. The Thai government

had tried to explain to Cambodia how the constitution made it

difficult to proceed quickly with border talks but the MFA

believed Phnom Penh interpreted Thailand\’s delay in engaging

in negotiations as a stalling tactic, Tharit told us.

 

7. (C) MFA Deputy Director-General of the Department of East

Asian Affairs Pisanu Suvanajata and MFA Deputy

Director-General of the Department of Treaties and Legal

Affairs Pornchai Danvivathana both asserted to us that

Article 190 was a serious obstacle to diplomatic activities

in general. Pisanu, one of four MFA officials (including

Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul) named in a criminal

complaint filed with the National Counter Corruption

Commission (NCCC) by the anti-government People\’s Alliance

for Democracy for allegedly violating the constitution for

their involvement in the May 22 Preah Vihear joint communique

with Cambodia, said Article 190 had deprived the MFA of the

authority to make commitments or even to endorse the minutes

of bilateral meetings. In regard to the border dispute,

Pisanu said the Thai government\’s workaround was to submit

the negotiation framework agreement for House and Senate

approval. Regarding the pending NCCC complaint, Pisanu told

us that Princess Sirindhorn, Privy Councilor Siddhi

Savetsila, and former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun had,

among many others, made donations to a fund for the legal

expenses of the MFA officials.

 

8. (C) Pornchai claimed that the interpretation of Article

190 had gone so far as to discourage MFA officials and

cabinet ministers from attending international meetings.

Pornchai cited a October 26 report that Cambodia had lodged a

complaint with UNESCO alleging Thailand had damaged the Preah

Vihear temple as example of the problems created by Article

190. Pornchai questioned whether the Thai government could

quickly respond to issues such as a UNESCO complaint, as it

may have to seek prior approval from the Parliament before

submitting a response to UNESCO.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 6:12 am

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