January 28, 2011
Cambodia Friday afternoon rejected Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's demand to remove Cambodia's flag at the pagoda near Preah Vihear temple, according to the declaration of Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The rejection was made following the demand by Abhisit on Thursday that Cambodia must remove its flag from the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda of Cambodia.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wishes to emphasize that this statement made by the prime minister of Thailand is unacceptable and that Cambodia firmly rejects such an insulting demand," said the declaration.
It added that "such a statement made by Thai prime minister in parallel with Thailand's military exercise at the border with Cambodia is clearly provocative and constitutes a casus belli for future acts of aggression against Cambodia."
"Cambodia reserves its legitimate rights to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity," it said.
According to the map produced by the Franco-Siamese commissions between the period of 1905 and 1908, the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, built by the people of Cambodia in 1998, is clearly situated in the Cambodian territory. "Therefore, the flag of Cambodia is legitimately flying over this pagoda."
The tension between Cambodia and Thailand over the border happened on Thursday after there was a report that Cambodia had raised a national flag over Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak pagoda at Preah Vihear temple and Thai side requested to remove it, but Cambodian side rejected it.
The flag had reportedly been flown at the temple instead after the contentious stone tablet with a message 'Here is Cambodia' was removed on Wednesday.
Reth Sitha, deputy chief of general staff at the Prime Minister Hun Sen's Bodyguard Unit and commander of Tank Unit, said on Friday that Cambodia has begun to enhance its military capacity at border area.
Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. Just a week after the enlistment, Cambodia and Thailand have had border conflict due to Thai claim of the ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple, triggering a military build-up along the border, and periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.