Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia

Delivered in Plenary - 17th February 2011

Mr President

For us in the European Union, the idea of taking military action over border disputes is now thankfully unimaginable. However, this is sadly not the case on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, whose armies have clashed several times in the past couple of weeks over a disputed, tiny, part of their border near to an ancient temple.

Aid agencies report that some 30 000 people have been displaced by the fighting, so it is hardly surprising in such circumstances that innocent civilians have been killed, although both sides contest the actual numbers.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has referred to the clashes as a ‘real war’. Such bellicose and incendiary rhetoric can only make matters worse. The short-term solution to this dispute lies in the hands of both governments and the UN Security Council, which should take the lead in imposing solutions to de-escalate the crisis. In the longer term it is to be hoped that further ASEAN regional integration will help to make such clashes a thing of the past, as has been the case here in the EU for decades.