Maris plans diplomatic visit to Cambodia
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Maris plans diplomatic visit to Cambodia

Maris: Breakwater on agenda
Maris: Breakwater on agenda

Foreign Affairs Minister Maris Sangiampongsa plans to visit Cambodia to negotiate an overlapping claims area (OCA) in Koh Kood, the border province of Trat.

Mr Maris said the visit would strengthen bilateral relations while also giving the opportunity to iron out issues such as the Cambodian construction of a disputed breakwater, which is close to the 73rd border demarcation post adjacent to the Klong Yai border checkpoint.

The breakwater issue, which is feared to amount to a territorial encroachment, was raised with the Cambodian government three years ago.

The structure, however, has remained intact, and Mr Maris was asked if the Foreign Affairs Ministry has contemplated renewing its protest. "It's something we can talk over," the minister said, adding he had yet to finalise a time for the visit.

Mr Maris also insisted the Thai-Cambodian memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2001 on joint development in the Gulf of Thailand, which is suspected to be in breach of the constitution, was not a treaty and contains no obligatory clauses. The governments have not made any agreement regarding the MoU.

In April, the Ombudsman was asked by Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan to petition the Constitutional Court to rule whether the MoU violated the constitution.

The 2001 MoU was not approved by parliament before it was signed, which was a legal misstep, according to Mr Paiboon's petition to the Ombudsman.

Mr Maris said the MoU does nothing to compromise Thailand's sovereignty over Koh Kood, as it imposes no obligations.

More issues need to be thrashed out pending the court's decision on whether to accept Mr Paiboon's petition, he added.

Later, Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, a former finance minister and the PPRP's chairman of the academic committee, took to Facebook to offer three observations on Mr Maris' interview on the 2001 MoU.

The first observation said the MoU has obligations. Mr Thirachai said the boundary lines Cambodia and Thailand made on the map were significant to the message in the MoU. It can be said that the MoU might have some obligations underneath, he said.

The second required the MoU to be cancelled, as it might not have any importance to both countries since it was not a treaty.

According to Mr Thirachai, the MoU might open a gap for Cambodia on the understanding that Thailand had admitted to the borderline on the OCA that it had made before, which was disadvantageous to the country and caused unnecessary negotiation arrangements.

The third focused on Cambodia's construction of a disputed breakwater. Since the construction violated global maritime laws on borders and sovereignty, Mr Thirachai said the government could protest against the construction without having anything to bargain with the Cambodian government.

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