Indonesia will send military observers to mediate a territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia as the two countries have agreed to ask for Indonesia’s assistance.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiatoro said on Monday that the Indonesian foreign minister had told him about the plan.
“We have done some preparations since last year and we will send those observers soon,” he told a press conference after a leadership meeting at the ministry.
He added that last year Cambodia had agreed to involve Indonesia in mediating the dispute, but that Thailand did not respond due to a change in government.
“Now, both countries have agreed and what we need is to prepare our human resources,” he said.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Adm. Agus Suhartono said that the standard operational procedure (SOP) and term of reference (TOR) had been changed.
“Previously, Indonesia was to send 15 observers to each side of the border,” he told the press conference. “But now we will work together with the Cambodian and Thai forces along the 4.6-kilometer border.”
He said the previous arrangement required 30 observers, while TNI was still calculating the personnel need for the new one.
“We will have to deploy the personnel on May 2 at the latest,” he said.
Agus said the observers were being trained at the Indonesian Peace and Security Center (IPSC) in Sentul, West Java.
Contacted separately, Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene confirmed the plan, saying that Indonesia would help Thailand and Cambodia create peace on their border, but added that Indonesia was still waiting for some reviews of the TOR.
“The TOR has been created, but we have to review it based on the recommendation given by the International Court of Justice (ICJ),” Tene told The Jakarta Post, adding that the three countries were now working on that matter.
Tene said that the ICJ had recommended establishing joint teams of observers comprising Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia.
“We are ready to send our observers when Thailand and Cambodia are ready,” he added.
Besides establishing joint observers, the ICJ ruled that Thailand and Cambodia should pull their troops out from the site of an ancient Hindu temple and establish a demilitarized zone around its ruins in order to facilitate negotiations.
The dispute between Thailand and Cambodia centers around Preah Vihear, the 11th Century Hindu temple located along the borders of the two countries. Previously, a 1962 ICJ ruling gave the right of the temple to Cambodia; a point Thailand does not debate. Thailand, however, claims the land surrounding the temple.
There have been various skirmishes along the disputed area since 2008, in which soldiers from both Cambodia and Thailand were killed.