Monday, January 29, 2007

German Ambassador slaps down arrogant Kulkumut of Thai foreign ministry

No questioning EU-Thai friendship

Text of a letter to The Nation from German Ambassador to Thailand Dr Christoph Bruemmer:

Dear Khun Kulkumut: For us Europeans Thailand is (and remains to be) not only one of the most important regional players in Southeast Asia but also a friendly country. It is only against this basic assumption that you should evaluate the European common reaction to the coup in Thailand (EU statement of September 29, 2006). If we are not ready to embrace a military take-over as something positive per se you should not blame us but ask about your own realities first. In other words: I would like to hope that our concerns about democracy in Thailand are first of all your own concerns. Lamentations about good and not so good friends are missing the point.

As head of the European Affairs Department you should know: It is the formulated and expressed common EU policy which counts - as difficult and divisive the decision making process leading up to it sometimes proves to be. The various groups of EU diplomats including heads of mission convening at least once a month also here in Bangkok are bodies and instruments of excellent consultation, co-operation and fine-tuning of common assessments and recommendations to capitals and to Brussels. The highly successful and commendable Finnish presidency just been handed over to Germany. I wonder how there could be a "more constructive leadership".

To you denigrating "any benchmark set by foreign governments": You should know, that it was PM Surayud Chulanont himself who - in an early stage of his government and in reaction to our expressed interest in a speedy return to democracy in Thailand - told European ambassadors: "Your benchmarks are my benchmarks." Needless to mention that we liked this kind of understanding because it reconfirms the common ground and lacks any self-complacency.

Secondly, you seem to perceive an overriding "business as usual" and affirmative approach in the foreign business community in Thailand. I refrain from lengthy comments. I just would like to ask you not to underestimate growing concern in this field. But again: It is a basically friendly concern and I appreciate very much the prime minister having just made it clear that Thailand wants to keep credentials as a country open and friendly towards foreign economic engagement.

Thirdly, you are putting the blame on people like me having asked for an independent audit concerning certain allegations about possible misuse of tsunami-related funds. Dear Khun Kulkhumit, please don't tarnish the excellent record of Thai-foreign tsunami-related relief cooperation. This was a prime example of what can be achieved by the spirit of sympathy and
friendship in times of disaster. And this praise, which I would not like to see diminished includes, of course, the highly professional and extremely successful cooperation of international and Thai police forces to identify the victims. In comparison the mentioned allegations and our humble request to clear things up have a very limited proportion. More important, however, and you should know about this, they were allegations from Thai sources to which we could not close our eyes.

So, my final request to you, Khun Kulkumut: Don't ask your friends to close their eyes. But even more important and first of all: Don't put into question our friendship either.

Quite frankly, the German ambassador should have gone farther, but he has to live with bullshit Thai diplomacy.

Also, where did the Tsunami relief funds go? Why isn't that information public?

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