By Surasak Tumcharoen
BANGKOK, April 12 (Xinhua) -- There are indications that Thailand and Cambodia will continue to co-exist as neighbors regardless of any ruling on the territorial dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple and its surrounding area by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague.
The hearings on the border dispute are scheduled to be held from April 15 to 19 with both sides preparing to present their arguments.
The ICJ has been asked by Cambodia to reinterpret its 1962 ruling that endorsed Cambodian sovereignty over the historic temple which was declared as a World Heritage site in 2008 by UNESCO.
Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul has expressed optimism that the ICJ would hand down a ruling that would neither favor Cambodia nor Thailand.
"I personally believe that chances will be as much as 80 to 90 percent for the ICJ to simply say that it has no legitimacy to judge or reinterpret 1962 verdict in the first place or probably to rule in support of that previous decision which gave Cambodia the territorial integrity over the temple but not over the surrounding areas," Surapong said.
Though the hearings will be carried out by the ICJ very shortly, its new ruling will not be delivered until October or November.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is a close friend of Yingluck's elder brother and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, are widely known to have fostered warm and amicable relationship since she took power in 2011.
Thai-Cambodian ties had turned sour with border conflicts bewteen the two neighbors during the tenure of former Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Thaksin was appointed as an advisor to Hun Sen after he was ousted in a military coup in 2006.
A senior Thai diplomat said on condition of anonymity that the Thai-Cambodian relationship is likely to remain warm and friendly, with both sides taking steps to maintain and promote Preah Vihear temple as a tourist attraction for the sake of mutual benefits.
One indication that there is considerable goodwill on both sides despite the territorial dispute was the recent visit of Thai Defense Minister Sukumpol Suwanatut to Preah Vihear Temple where he held informal and friendly talks with his Cambodian counterpart Tea Banh, an assurance that the two neighbors can co-exist in peace and share prosperity.
According to the Thai defense minister, the ICJ might possibly suggest that both sides come to terms among themselves and put an end to bickering over the territorial dispute.
Thai ambassador to the Hague Veerachai Palasai said the previous verdict of the world court in favor of Cambodia may only have been "a tip of the iceberg."
"The world court might probably say that it has no authority to reinterpret or judge on the case again. As a matter of fact, the ICJ verdict of 1962 did by no means rule on territorial integrity of any land in the vicinity of the ruined temple, which was solely judged as property of the Cambodians," the ambassador said.
"We'd better not forecast who will finally win or lose in the case. Both sides are fairly meant to co-exist in peace and harmony, " the ambassador added.