MELBOURNE, July21, 2010 - Thailand's recently appointed Ambassador to Australia, Dr. Kriangsak Kittichaisaree, applauded the Australian government for its supportfollowing this year's May unrest in Bangkok and emphasised that the countries'extensive trading ties and recently concluded Free Trade Agreement were notaffected.
"I would like to thank the government of Australia for standing by us," he said.
"Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith was very clear that this is an internal matter for Thailand, for Thais to solve among themselves."
Kriangsak spoke with Asialink – Asia Society AustralAsia Centre following a roundtable discussion at the Sidney Myer Asia Centre attended by leaders in business, government and academia. This was the Ambassador's first official visit to Melbourne; he previously served his country as Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran (2007-2009).
The Ambassador described the violence in Bangkok in May this year as the worst chapter in the nation’s modern history, but was confident in the success of Prime Minister Abhisit’s five-point road map to reconciliation.
He described Australia as one of Thailand's closest partners, in good times or bad, and asserted that Australians don't know much about Thailand beyond its status as a tourist destination (attracting 700,000 Australians last year.)
Kriangsak noted that Australia has the second largest Thai expatriate community in the world behind the United States, and is the most popular destination for Thai students. He also pointed out that Australia has the largest number of Thai restaurants per capita outside Thailand.
Reported by Will McCallum