BANGKOK — The European Union envoy to Thailand David Daly answer five questions submitted by Pravit Rojanaphruk on the EU proactive activities in convincing Thailand to oppose the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
During last week’s press conference, Russian Ambassador to Thailand Evgeny Tomikhin said you and two dozen other ambassadors from the EU member states applied “pressure on the Thai government” by visiting the Thai Foreign Ministry late last month and calling for Thailand to take a tough stance on Russia. Is this an accurate portrayal of what had transpired?
It is not an accurate portrayal. The use of diplomatic channels for a dialogue is a normal part of diplomacy. The EU regularly uses diplomatic channels to engage in constructive dialogue with Thailand on a wide range of issues.
In this specific case, the EU and other ambassadors from EU Member States (and like-minded states) called on Thailand to support the principles of the UN charter and to protect our international system based on rules, multilateralism and the peaceful resolution of disputes, as opposed to a system based on military aggression.
The Thai government first voted to condemn the Russian aggression in Ukraine at the UN General Assembly. It later announces that Thailand is neutral. Is the EU satisfied with the neutral stance of Thailand on the matter?
It was impressive that 141 countries, including Thailand the EU Member States, voted to support the UN Charter at the recent vote at the UN General Assembly. This was in line with the longstanding positions of Thailand and the EU Member States in support of the UN principles. Unfortunately, as the war continues it will be necessary for us all to take further actions to defend our rules-based international system.
Some Thais subscribe to the belief that what’s happening in Ukraine is a clash of the world’s superpowers with Ukraine used as a pawn thus both the Thai government and Thai citizens should not get themselves involved in the matter. What’s your take on such views?
Near or far, all countries around the world, including Thailand, are already affected by Putin’s war against Ukraine because it is an attack on our international system based on rules and multilateralism, as opposed to one based on military might and aggression. This is not some remote European problem; it could happen anywhere, including in Asia.
Add to that the fact that the war has increased substantially energy and food prices, to list just two key products; this affects everyone, everywhere, especially the most vulnerable worldwide.
To stand firm with the Ukrainian people is not to take a side, but to uphold the UN Charter and the rules-based international system.
Apart from that, this is not Cold War 2.0 as the Kremlin wants to portray. It is Putin’s War and President Putin will be held accountable for the aggression he has been imposing on Ukraine.
Some Thais say the EU and the West are unequally sympathetic to Ukrainians simply because the latter are white and more Europeans unlike others suffering in Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan or Myanmar. Is this true?
There is a discrepancy between the perception and reality. Europe stands by those in need of protection. The European Union has a strong track record of providing humanitarian assistance to address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable, including displaced and conflict-affected communities in Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and elsewhere.
The EU and its Member States represent the largest donor of humanitarian assistance globally thereby demonstrating that solidarity with others is a core value of the EU.
Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the French and the German Embassies have organized a joint solidarity concert in Bangkok. Will we be seeing more activities either from the EU mission or other embassies from the EU member states here in Bangkok or elsewhere in Thailand again in the near future?
Symbols of solidarity matter. Last week, the EU launched the ‘Sunflower for Solidarity’ Campaign having diplomats from EU member states in Thailand take a photo with a sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine. This was posted on the social media accounts of many EU member states.
The sunflower has a deep meaning in Thai, as resisting the sun – like what the Ukrainian people are doing right now, resisting the unprovoked aggression from Russia. We invite our friends in Thailand to join the campaign in sending the message that might is not right.
We have been witnessing some of our Thai and international friends taken part in the campaign. The engagement has been organic all along. It is always refreshing to see such a universal message get across language and national barriers.
In the future, all public engagements of the EU Delegation will involve the key message of Team Europe Solidarity with Ukraine. We recognize the role of public diplomacy and soft powers to help deliver this significant message, which may be regarded as a sensitive issue by some of our friends.