De-listing of Preah Vihear temple impossible: UNESCO special envoy…in the Kasit face
PHNOM PENH, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) — Koichiro Matsuura, special envoy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said here on Monday that it is impossible to de-list Preah Vihear temple from the World Heritage List.
Matsuura made the remarks during a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“Thailand has intention to ask UNESCO to de-list the temple, but I had informed Abhisit Vejjajiva (Thai prime minister) and Kasit Piromya (Thai foreign minister) that de-listing of Preah Vihear temple from the World Heritage List is impossible by all means because Preah Vihear temple is the outstanding universal value,”the Prime Minister’s spokesman Eang Sophalleth quoted Matsuura as saying.
“Preah Vihear temple, the World Heritage site, is under the responsibility of UNESCO, so UNESCO experts will come to evaluate and restore Preah Vihear temple in the future,”Matsuura told the premier.
Meanwhile, Hun Sen informed Matsuura that Thai troops had fired more than 400 shells of mortars and artillery at the temple which caused serious damages to the World Heritage site. The premier also asked the World Heritage Committee (WHC) not to halt the temple’s management plan during its annual meeting in Bahrain in June.
“The management plan of the temple by UNESCO on the World Heritage site should not be abandoned due to the threat of Thailand,”Hun Sen said, adding “if we don’t do urgent repair, Preah Vihear temple will be in danger. Moreover, it will set a bad precedent that big country’s threat made UNESCO unable to manage and preserve the world heritage site.”
The Bangkok Post, on Feb. 26, quoted Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying that Matsuura supported Thai stance to put off Cambodia’s management plan of Preah Vihear temple.
Matsuura told reporters after the meeting that”UNESCO is not sided with any country, it is neutral.”
Matsuura, a former director-general of UNESCO (1999-2009) and a former Chair of the World Heritage Committee, was named by Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, on Feb. 11 as the special envoy to mediate the issue of Preah Vihear temple following a deadly clash from Feb. 4 to 7 between Cambodian and Thai troops over the border disputed area next to the temple. He arrived here on Sunday to pay a three-day visit.
The clash unleashed a barrage of artillery shells on both sides of the border, killed and wounded some soldiers and people of both sides, as well as caused serious damages to Preah Vihear temple.
Preah Vihear Temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008.
The conflict has occurred just a week after the inscription due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, since then periodic clashes have happened between the two countries’ troops resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.