"Surin to Thailand and Cambodia: 'Let ASEAN help mediate soonest.'"
ASEAN Secretariat, 5 February 2011
The deteriorating situation along the Thai-Cambodian border is undermining confidence in ASEAN and affecting economic recovery, tourism and investment prospect in the region, said Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in his urgent message to the two ASEAN Member States now trading fires with casualties on both sides.
"I am deeply concerned about the serious situation on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. This violent conflict must be brought under control and the two parties must return to the negotiating table soonest," said the Dr. Surin.
The violent conflict started with a gun fire and artillery duals mid afternoon Friday 4 February near the long disputed site of an ancient Hindu Temple, Preah Vihear. While the International Court of Justice decided in favor of Cambodia in 1962, the areas adjacent to the Temple remain under dispute.
"I have been in touch with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, H.E. Hor Namhong, and the Foreign Minister of Thailand, H.E. Kasit Piramya, and I have appealed for calm, maximum restraint on both sides, and expressed my fervent desire to see both sides in a positive exchange as soon as possible, said the ASEAN Secretary-General.
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan also called both to allow ASEAN to help them bring some form of a temporary truce and cool down the emotions and temper so that a higher interest of both peoples and that of ASEAN can be protected and enhanced.
"The situation has escalated into open conflict. And that will definitely affect our economic development, confidence in our region, tourism and prospect for foreign investment, which have just been picking up in light of the world economic recovery," said Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, who is a former Foreign Minister of Thailand.
Diplomatic sources reveal that Surin's wishes would be materialized soon as Indonesia, the current Chair of ASEAN, steps up its diplomatic efforts to help the two sides arrive at a temporary solution so as to allow bilateral mechanisms between them to accomplish their objectives of border demarcation and general peace in the areas.
"I understand both sides now welcome some form of mediation by the ASEAN leadership," Surin said, without elaborating.