When Unesco's World Heritage committee meets in Canada next
month, they will review an application for Preah Vihear temple that was the
product of years of work and a delicate agreement between two neighbors.
The World Heritage application took seven years to complete,
officials told reporters on Friday, and there is no clear sign it will be
accepted at a meeting in Quebec
from July 2 to July 12. Meanwhile, the two governments have reached a detante
over the application, even if not all their citizens have.
"Up to now, there's no conflict between the Cambodian
government and Thai government," Chan Tani, secretary of state for the
Council of Ministers, said. "So far I do not see that there is a problem.
But we must be careful to prevent the risk. If Preah Vihear is not admitted, it
is still Cambodian property."
Cambodian and Thai delegations have been meeting since 2001
desire to have the temple protected. An international court ruled in 1962 that
the temple belonged to Cambodia,
but the border surrounding it, along a high cliff, remains disputed. In the
end, it was a May 22 meeting in Paris
between Council Minister Sok An and Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama that
moved the application process forward.
The application brought many latent border anxieties between
Cambodia and Thailand to the fore, and over the past week,
protesters in Bangkok have accused the Thai
government of giving land to Cambodia. Critics of the Cambodian position have said the government
surrendered too much in its negotiations with Thailand over the application.
has so far remained calm over the application, which included a map of the
temples and a request that 30 meters of land surrounding each structure be
included under Unesco's protection.
Ancient temples remain an emotional touchstone for many
Cambodians. In 2003 Cambodian mobs looted and burned the Thai Embassy and other
Thai businesses in Phnom Penh following rumors that
a Thai actress claimed Angkor Wat should belong to Thailand.
Moeung Son, president of Eurasia Travel and president of the
Khmer Civilization Support Fund, said he expects a successful application,
proposed only its own temples to be protected as a World Heritage.