Article of H.E. Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia «Russia - Thailand: 120 years of mutual respect and trust» published in the «Matichon Weekly»

This year marks a significant date – the 120th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and Thailand. This is a good reason to identify benchmarks for further joint efforts based on the extensive experience of multifaceted cooperation with the oldest partner of our country in the South-East Asia.

The official history of Russian-Thai relations started on July 3, 1897 when H.M. King Rama V of Siam visited Saint-Petersburg. On April 14, 1898 a Consulate-General of Russia was opened in Bangkok. It was headed by Mr. Alexander Olarovsky whose work according to the instruction approved by H.M. Emperor Nicholas II should have been «devoid to any selfish motives and desire to get any benefits». In 1899 the first bilateral agreement – Russian-Siamese Declaration of Jurisdiction, Trade and Navigation was signed. At that time, Russia rendered political support to Siam, which helped it to defend its sovereignty from the Great Britain’s encroachment. The author of the Thai Royal Anthem, which was used as the National anthem of Siam up to 1932 was a Russian composer Mr. Pyotr Schurovskiy.

During the period of bipolar confrontation of social and political systems in the 20th century Moscow and Bangkok managed to promote mutually beneficial cooperation in the spheres of joint interest. Agreement on Trade (1970) and Agreement on Air Service (1971) which are still valid were signed. Since 1973 «Aeroflot» has been carrying out direct flights to the capital of Thailand. 

In mid-1980s the bilateral relations were upgraded to a new level. General Prem Tinsulanonda, Prime Minister of Thailand visited Moscow in 1988 and 

Mr. Nikolay Ryzhkov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR paid an official visit to Bangkok in 1990. On December 28, 1991 the Royal Thai Government recognised the Russian Federation as a successor of the USSR and reconfirmed its intention to develop friendly relations.

The state visit of H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia to Thailand in October 2003 gave a strong impetus to the Russian-Thai relations. It was the first visit of a Russian leader to Thailand. The summit allowed to set out priority directions of cooperation for the long term. The mutual intention to intensify cooperation was reconfirmed during the Royal visit of H.M. Queen Sirikit of Thailand to Russia in July 2007 on behalf of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In recent years, the bilateral political dialogue has gained new momentum. Meetings between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in May 2016 in Sochi on the sidelines of the Russia-ASEAN Summit and in September 2017 in Xiamen during the BRICS Summit became strong evidence of that. In 2015 and 2016 an exchange of visits of the heads of governments of the two countries took place.

Trade and economic cooperation is expanding. Thailand has become one of the major trade partners of Russia in South-East Asia. We are taking joint steps to fulfil an ambitious objective to reach 10 billion USD volume of the bilateral trade by 2020. We give priority to development of cooperation in such high-tech spheres as civil aviation, energy, peaceful use of outer space, transport and telecommunications. Russia has much to offer the Thai partners who are interested in advanced Russian designs in the spheres of nanotechnology, bioengineering, telemedicine, geophysics and alternative energy.

The total Thai investment to the Russian economy has exceeded 1.6 billion USD, while Russian investment in Thailand is more than 500 million USD. We take particular note of the long-time fruitful work of the «Charoen Pokphand Group», which is successfully implementing agricultural projects in a number of regions of Russia.

Interregional exchanges are thriving. As early as 1997 when protocols on friendly relations between Moscow and Bangkok (at present the two cities are implementing the Program of cooperation for 2015-2017) and between Bangkok and Saint-Petersburg were signed. Since 2015 the Russian capital has been hosting an annual festival to familiarize the Moscovites with Thai traditions, culture and cuisine. The Days of Moscow festival was held in Bangkok in November last year. 

Cultural ties between our countries trace back to 1900 when a traditional Siamese dance troupe fascinated Saint-Petersburg. Nowadays, famous Russian performing companies are continuously participating in the Bangkok International Festival of Dance and Music. The Thai audience has been granting warm welcome to the actors of Mariinsky and Novosibirsk Theatres of Opera and Ballet, as well as representatives of other regions of Russia. To honour the 120th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, this year the Festival opened with the ballet “Katya and the Prince of Siam” performed by the Yekaterinburg Ballet and Opera Theatre while Thailand’s Khon traditional masked dance was shown in Russia. In July the Russian-Thai Festival was held to celebrate the jubilee. 

It is encouraging to note the growing interest in Thailand to learning the Russian language and obtaining education in our country, where several hundreds of Thai students have been doing their studies. Some of them received Russian Government scholarships. A number of agreements on establishing direct ties and cooperation between the leading educational institutions of our countries has been concluded.

Thailand has secured its position of one of the leading travel destinations for Russian citizens. Last year alone, more than one million tourists from Russia visited your hospitable country. In the first five months of this year we witnessed a 37% surge in tourists inflow. Moreover, a numerous diaspora of our compatriots resides in Thailand. With them came Russian-speaking media, schools, kinder gardens and restaurants. Special role in ensuring safety and protecting rights and lawful interests of our citizen belongs to the Honorary Consuls in Pattaya and Phuket. 

Cooperation in countering multiple threats and challenges is one of the key areas of our joint work. Russia’s and Thailand’s National Security Councils discuss various aspects of combatting international terrorism, transnational crimes, illicit drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering and other economic crimes. Contacts between the Supreme Courts and law-enforcement agencies are evolving dynamically. 

Interaction of our diplomatic services is substantial. Proximity of the two countries’ stances on key international and regional issues was proved during my visit to Bangkok last August. Thai partners share our views on basic principles of shaping a just and democratic polycentric world order, based on the international law and reflecting cultural and civilizational diversity of the contemporary world.

We are interested in expanding the dialogue on forging an architecture of equal and indivisible security in the Asia Pacific to be based on non-bloc approaches in the interest of ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth of all countries of the region. We highly appreciate Bangkok’s intention to establish cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union. 

Russian-Thai relations have been tested by time and achieved a high level of trust and mutual understanding. We are facing large-scale tasks related to ensuring a consistent promotion of our bilateral ties in the interest of well-being and prosperity of the peoples of our countries, strengthening peace and stability in the South-East Asia and the Asia Pacific in general. We are convinced that we can successfully make it.





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