While many Cambodians celebrated the inclusion of the Preah
Vihear temple on a list of protected World Heritage sites this week, critics warn Cambodia
gained a little in recognition but could lose land in future border negotiations.
"It gained a little bit because Cambodians who do not
know it well will know that the temple belongs to the Khmers," said Sean
Peng Se, president of the Cambodian Border Committee in France. "Thailand can
claim it, but [an International Court]
verdict clearly said it's Khmer, in Khmer land."
Sean Peng Se said he was concerned over future border
demarcation because Cambodia
had not submitted all the land surrounding the cliff-top temple in its World
Heritage application to Unesco. The temple was inscribed as a World Heritage
site by a Unesco committee on Monday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has said border demarcation will not
Former king Norodom Sihanouk, meanwhile, issued a statement
saying the "main gate" of the temple opened to Cambodia, not Thailand.
Cambodia Watchdog Council International has said the
redrawing of a map for the Unesco application constituted a loss of territory.
"The borderline is clearly referred to in 1904-07 and
the verdict of the International
Court in 1962," said Ir Channa,
secretary-general of the Council, which is based in Norway
and plans to hold a conference in France on Cambodian territory at the
end of July.
According to 1904 and 1907 treaties, he said, Cambodia territory reaches to about 2 kilometers from
the northern steps of the temple stairs facing Thailand, farther than the 30
meters now demarked around the temple for World Heritage purposes.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the World
Heritage inscription was not about borders, but about culture. The government
understands the treaties, he said, but border demarcation is a separate