Indonesia Wants to Observe from a Distance

13 April, 2011 | Source: Bangkok Post

Asean witnesses will not step into disputed area. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa insists his country will not send military observers into the disputed area on the Thai-Cambodian border.

Natalegawa said Indonesia had not yet assigned anyone to observe the Thai-Cambodian border conflict because it had to take a look at what relevant countries thought about the matter.

"A key remaining issue is where the observer team would be assigned. It is a team, not a military mission. They are unarmed; they are not going to be wearing military uniforms," Natalegawa said yesterday (11/3) during a press conference on the sidelines of the Special Informal Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting on East Asia at Bangkok′s Shangri-La hotel.

Natalegawa said Indonesia′s stance not to to send military observers to the dispute was arrived at after he met with his Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya in Jakarta last Saturday (9/3) on the sidelines of the Special Asean-Japan Meeting on giving assistance to disaster-hit Japan.

The two foreign ministers discussed the terms of reference on the despatch of Indonesian observers.

The Thai side reiterated its position that the Indonesian observers must be unarmed and be considered members of the Indonesian diplomatic mission.

It would not allow the Indonesian military observers to enter the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area around the Preah Vihear Temple.

In addition, they would have to follow strictly any recommendations of the Thai side, and must not undertake any action which would be contrary to the Thai constitution or violate Thai sovereignty.

Indonesia, as this year′s Asean chair, asked Thailand and Cambodia to allow its observers to enter the disputed area at the Informal Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting on Feb 22 to resolve the border dispute after fighting broke out between Feb 4 and 7.

Indonesia, which offered to be a facilitator, at the same time asked the two countries to resume bilateral Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) talks, which ended last Friday in Bogor, Indonesia.

Natalegawa said there had been much more progress on the two countries′ discussions on the despatch of Indonesian observers.

"The border situation today is far more stable than it was in February. It would be a bit more ideal if it would have an observer team on the ground," he said.

"We are progressing on this issue".

Natalegawa said the Thai government had issued a new proposal on where the observers would be assigned and he told both Thailand and Cambodia that the observers should not be too legally perfect and precise.

He said the observer team will be sent sooner or later.

Natalegawa said he hoped the border situation between Thailand and Cambodia would remain stable and free of armed conflict in the longer term.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva chaired the meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) yesterday, which also discussed the Indonesian observers issue.

NSC secretary general Thawil Pliensri said the Foreign Ministry had taken the opinion of the Defence Ministry to discuss with relevant agencies that Thailand did not want Indonesian military observers to enter the disputed area because the issue was sensitive.

 

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