Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Suwit critical of Unesco and Noppadon

    Unesco director-general Irina Bokova showed a lack of respect for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva by refusing to receive his phone calls, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti said on Tuesday.

    Prime Minister and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (left) and Natural Resources and Environment Minister and Social Action Party leader Suwit Khunkitti (right)

    "Mr Abhisit tried to call the Unesco director-general many times to explain Thailand's wish to postpone the consideration of the Preah Vihear temple management plan [proposed by Cambodia], but Mr Abhisit's telephone calls were not answered," said Mr Suwit, who led the Thai delegation to the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris last week and made the decision to withdraw Thailand's membership of the WHC.

    "Thailand can rejoin the WHC anytime but it must take the country's sovereignty and the Thai-Cambodian border situation into account because they are sensitive issues."

    Mr Suwit said the current border problem was caused by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's legal adviser Noppadon Pattama, who presented the Preah Vihear issue to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) when he was foreign minister three years ago.

    Mr Noppadon today posted a message in his Facebook page, claiming that Prime Minister Abhisit was putting the blame on him for the Preah Vihear dispute.

    Mr Noppadon's message says: "My parents taught me not to lie to protect myself and damage other people. Mr Abhisit yesterday defamed me with lies. I forgive him and I'm not angry because Mr Abhisit has no privilege above the law of karma."

    Former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama

    Yesterday, Mr Abhisit wrote a message in his Facebook page, saying the Preah Vihear problem started when Mr Noppadon signed a joint statement with Cambodia on June 18, 2008 while he was foreign minister and sought the listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site.

    Unesco director-general Bokova issued a statement yesterday, expressing her deep regret at Mr Suwit's decision to withdraw Thailand from the WHC.

    Ms Bokova said she hoped "Thailand will carefully consider its future course of action in respect of this important Convention and will continue to be an active participant in the international cooperation for the protection of the world’s outstanding heritage."

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