mardi 23 octobre 2007

III. The Problems


One part of Cambodian territory irregularly occupied by the Annamites was thus ceded to France and then restored by her to Viet-Nam by a French act of 1949. These territories represent ancient Cambodian interests quite apart from her historical and archeological interest. On the one hand, from the demographic point of view these territories in Cochinchina contain more than half a million Cambodian who are very patriotic and who are very sincere Buddhists, living in the neighborhood of about 100 pagodas whose bonzes practice Buddhist principles of the lesser vehicle as in Cambodia and faithfully conserve the traditions, habits and customs of the Cambodian people.

On the other hand, from the economic point of view the territory of South Viet-Nam, covering an area of about 49,000 square kilometers, that is to say an area greater than the whole of Switzerland, constitutes as vast fertile plain rich in natural fertilizers which the Mekong has brought down to them in the course of the centuries in its alluvium. This territory situated on both sides of the mouth of the Mekong, closes Cambodia’s outlet to the sea. It constitutes an obstruction for the maritime commerce of Cambodia.There are thus three types of problem :

a. the problem of the division of territory ;

b. the problem of protecting an ethnic minority ;

c. the problem of access to the sea.

These are not problems which concern exclusively Cambodia and Viet-Nam, but also France as the liquidator of the former Indo-Chinese regime and other peaceful states who desire to achieve and maintain the peace and prosperity of the international community. They are the type of problem to which the great powers, the League of Nations and the United Nations have already been giving their attention ever since the end of the First World War.

In dealing with problems concerning the division of territory, the powers have been obliged to find solutions in the cases of the Sarre and Alsace-Lorraine (claimed by France and Germany), Vilno (claimed by Lithuania and Poland), White Russia (claimed by Poland and Russia). Bessarabia (claimed by Roumania and Russia), Upper Silesia (claimed by Poland and Germany), Teschen (claimed by Poland and Czechoslovakia), South Tyrol or Upper Adige (claimed by Austria and Italy), Fiume (claimed by Italy and Yugoslavia).

Regarding the protection of minorities, the victorious allies of the first War imposed special obligation on a certain number of states including Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, the Baltic States and the Balkan States, who accepted them by signing the treaties. The minority populations thus obtained a special form of international protection against an abuse of power by the State within whose territory they lived ; for example, the Germans living in Silesia, who had become Poles were safe-guarded.

As to the problem of access to the sea, international solutions were found in the case of the Polish corridor and port of Dantzig on the one hand and the territories of Memel and the port Memel on the other. Just as the Polish Corridor and the Memel territory were essential to the economic life of Poland and Lithuania, so are the Cochinchina territories a necessary outlet for Cambodia.

Even if it is not possible to consider reverting entirely to the earlier solutions which, as experience, showed created certain difficulties, it is nonetheless undesirable to demand that one single state should forget its rich lands and deprive itself of its only normal access to the sea and abandon to their fate more than half a million of its subjects. That would be a sacrifice too heavy to be borne by any country even if it were animated by the purest spirit of altruism and friendship.

Among the ways of achieving peace which might be considered at the Geneva Conference is one which consists in recognizing the sovereignty of the Vietminh over a part of the national territory of Viet-nam. This solution implies a division of the territory of Viet-Nam and a New delimitation of her frontiers which would be confirmed and recognized by the states attending the conference and perhaps later by the United Nations itself. This would mean definitely giving Viet-nam a portion of Cambodia territory which was irregularly severed from Cambodia and it is against this possible amputation of these provinces that Cambodia protests, begging the nations who are members of the conference to take into account the historical rights and the economic and political interests of Cambodia.

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