Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Nation: Spinning European Unhappiness With the Coup into a Plus


The Nation

Good tidings from Europe

The Asean-EU meeting in Nuremberg this week was a big boost for the region and particularly Thailand

The second excellent outcome of the Asean-EU has to do with Thailand's relations with Europe, which reached their lowest point following the September 19 coup. Squabbling over alleged corruption in the use of donated funds to assist tsunami victims a few months later further dampened the state of bilateral relations. Unlike Asia, Europe has taken a hard line against the coup in Thailand. Europe condemned the military takeover and called for an immediate restoration of democratic institutions and elections. For months EU diplomats refused to meet with Thai officials. France has been the most flexible, with the exchange of official visits between both capitals.

In this regard, the Asean-EU meeting provided an excellent opportunity for Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram to have much-needed meetings and exchanges of views with individual EU members. So far, Thailand's post-coup diplomacy has been confined to Asia. Nitya's next move will be the US, which is still showing reluctance to hold a meeting.

The EU as a whole has given Thailand a vote of confidence that everything is on track with the drafting of its new constitution and the subsequent referendum and for the holding of elections by the end of the year. Although there are still some subtle differences among EU members over the September 19 coup, especially between the Nordic and central European members, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke on behalf of the EU in saying that Thailand had set up a consistent plan to fully restore democracy.

I could care less if Europe approves of Thailand's illegal coup or not. And why should The Nation care about Europe's approval? For Europe, it will be business as usual. It doesn't give a shit if Thailand is a democracy or fascist dictatorship. In the end, it will keep sending the tourists, the multi-nationals, development money, and all the self-important diplomats to last three lifetimes.

What interests me, however, is how The Nation spins this EU-Asean conference as a plus for Thailand when there is no evidence to support it.

Just because Nitya is feeding the Europeans a lot of bullshit doesn't mean anybody over there is going to believe him. Why would any diplomat take a foreign minister of Thailand at face value? Neither the generals nor the Surayud government has shown any credibility in any area of public policy for the last five months. They haven't prosecuted Thaksin for his alleged crimes.

If I were a European minister with any integrity, I would have wondered out loud why haven't the reasons for the coup materialized?

Why was Thaksin allowed to be ousted when it was clear that all the mechanisms of the 1997 Constitution weren't utilized?

I would have aslo wondered how the Thai government could capriciously nationalize a foreign company(Temasek owned Shin Group) based on the fact that it did business with the previous Thaksin government.

Maybe the Europeans asked these question and they weren't reported. If I have any European readers, could they please post links to any news stories about Thai-European relations?

Were there truly good tidings in Europe ?

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