Without an increase in international assistance, the Kingdom’s stunning Angkorian-era temples would be at the mercy of nature and human neglect, Council of Ministers officials said yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An last Wednesday encouraged a group of visiting Russian diplomats to contribute to the restoration of one of the temples in Siem Reap, Ek Tha, a spokesman from the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, said yesterday.
In a meeting with Alexander Ignatov, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Cambodia, Sok An said the country had an estimated 1,000 temples, many of which were in great need of restoration and conservation.
In Siem Reap province alone, home of the famous Angkor Wat complex, there are about 90 temples.
“UNESCO listed Angkor as a World Heritage site in 1992. Since then, more than 60 temple restoration projects are under way or have been completed, with support from 16 countries,” Ek Tha said.
Donor countries who have completed or are conducting restoration work in Cambodia include China, France, India, Japan, Hungary, Switzerland, the US and Italy.
Last week, the Post repor-ted the discovery of a Buddha statue by the Indian archaeological team conducting restoration at Ta Prom temple, in the Angkor complex.
“The reason why we call on Russia, not only China, but major countries that have been friendly with Cambodia, is because it creates a good economic and cultural relat-ionship and a good image for the countries,” Ek Tha said.
“We do not want the temples damaged by nature and war to disappear, because they are a striking attract-ion – but we just don’t have the financial and technical means to conduct all the restoration ourselves,” he said, adding that Cambodia’s restoration specialists had all been killed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
UNESCO culture program specialist Philippe Delanghe said bilateral restoration projects were making a significant contribution to human resources in the Kingdom.
“A lot has been achieved from Cambodia in that sense,” Delanghe said. “The capacity of the government has improved tremendously.”
The International Co-operation Committee, formed by the Japanese and French governments in 1993 to protect the Kingdom’s temples, is due to meet in December.
Representatives from the Apsara Authority were not available for comment.