The Hindu temple was built mainly in the 11th and 12th centuries, by the same Khmer civilisation that built Angkor Wat. The Khmers dominated the region for five centuries. As Cambodia has a tragic recent history of genocide and civil war, politicians often look to the glorious distant past to inspire nationalist sentiment.
And Cambodian nationalists often use Thailand as a bogeyman to stoke nationalist fervour – charting a litany of wrongs such as the successive Thai invasions that helped destroy the once mighty Khmer empires and rendered the country defenceless against French colonial conquest in the 19th Century.
Thailand also took advantage of the chaos during World War II to occupy large chunks of western Cambodia, including the temples at Angkor Wat. It was forced to hand them back when the war ended.
The Thai military often treated Cambodian refugees who fled the civil wars of the 1970s and 80s harshly – and Thailand backed the remnants of the Khmer Rouge in their struggle against the Vietnamese occupation, so helping prolong the civil war.
On the Thai side, the Khmer civilisation profoundly influenced Thai culture, and there are many famous Khmer-style temples in Thailand. In recent years, a powerful nationalist lobby allied to the powerful military has helped drive a more muscular foreign policy agenda in Thailand.
Source: BBC news