Foreign Governments Urge Peace, Election In Thailand

Anti-government protesters, 11 December 2013

(11 December) Various foreign governments such as the United States, Canada, and China have expressed concerns over escalating tensions in Thailand, and advised the kingdom to resolve the crisis in a democratic way.


In issued statements, many national representatives also noted that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had already called for a new general election to pave the way forward for the country after the dissolution of the Parliament.
Ms. Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the United States Department of State, said in a statement that “The United States strongly supports democratic institutions and the democratic process in Thailand”.
“Prime Minister Yingluck has called for elections as a way forward amid ongoing political tensions and demonstrations. We encourage all involved [party] to resolve political differences peacefully and democratically in a way that reflects the will of the Thai people and strengthens the rule of law.”
The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. John Baird, also issued a statement reads: “Canada is concerned by continuing protests in Bangkok and by renewed risks of associated violence and instability.
“Canada urges all parties to engage through the legitimate Thai democratic institutions and uphold the rule of law. It is the right of every Thai citizen to voice their opinions and concerns through peaceful means and to exercise their democratic rights through an inclusive electoral process.”
Echoing other national representatives, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle expressed his worry over the current situation in Thailand. “[We] call on all those in positions of political responsibility to act with moderation and restraint so that the situation does not spiral out of control.”
“Further violence and the spilling of yet more blood on the streets of Bangkok would be a serious setback for democracy, political stability and social and economic development in Thailand," said Mr. Westerwelle, who suggested that Thailand needs public debate to solve the current political situation.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a brief statement stating that as a friendly neighbour, China hopes that the Thai election will be held smoothly.
"We hope to see relevant parties in Thailand properly manage differences through dialogue and consultation within the framework of the constitution and laws, and restore national stability and order at an early date," said Mr. Hong Lei, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Affairs Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Murray McCully, also stated that calling for new election represents the commitment of PM Yingluck towards peaceful resolution.
“The New Zealand Government has been concerned by the tensions in recent weeks and the risk of further bloodshed. Elections, expected to take place in February, demonstrate the Yingluck Government’s commitment to a peaceful resolution”
Meanwhile, Ms. Julie Bishop, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said she hoped the election would help ease the country political situation, and praised the Thai authorities for allowing peaceful protests. She also called for a peaceful democratic process, with respect for the rule of law. 
However, Mr. Rolf-Dieter Daniel, President of the European-ASEAN Business Centre, told our correspondent via email that it is not an ideal time for Thailand to dissolve the parliament, as Thailand and EU is currently negotiating about the joint Free-Trade Agreement.
He commented that “Thailand is losing precious time and may even fall behind their ASEAN peers, who are also in FTA negotiations with the EU,” and that it may lose its chance to become an economic hub within ASEAN.
Although foreign companies in Thailand possess good understanding about Thai politics, the daily reports about the conflict would definitely discourage foreign investment or postpone investors’ future projects, according to Mr. Daniel.
The EABC president also warned that the past conflict that has isolated Thailand from international community, due to its lack of democracy, and suggested that such situation should be avoided, as it could halt the country’s economic development. 
"Thailand should remain a free and open society with democratic footing," Mr. Daniel said.
At the same time, he said, the country should tackle the problem of corruptions since many corporations have described it as a major obstacle for investment in Thailand.
EABC also supports the initiative by the Thai Chamber of Commerce to act as a mediator for the debate between the government and the opposition parties, Mr. Daniel added.

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