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Vol. 24 No.3
July - September 2007

ISSN 0125-0159

Editor’s Note
Foreign Relations
Her Majesty the Queen’s Historic Visit to Russia
Top Collectibles at the 20th Asian International Stamp Exhibition in Bangkok
In Focus
Nam Nao: The Source of Life and Survival That Needs a Helping Hand
Special Feature
The Promotion of Public Unity and Participation at the Democracy Festival
Thai Technology to Increase the Productivity of Giant Freshwater Prawns
Thailand Serves Halal Foods to the World
A Quest for Northern Flowers in a Southern Village
Thai Touch
Sangkhla Buri: The Land of Buddhism, Culture, and Unity

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Her Majesty the Queen’s Historic Visit to Russia

The year 2007 marks the 110th anniversary of Thai-Russian diplomatic relations, another landmark after Thailand and Russia celebrated 100 years of diplomatic ties in 1997. Several activities were held to celebrate this occasion, but no event was more important than the visit of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit to the Russian Federation on 2-11 July 2007, at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin.

Her Majesty the Queen represented His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the 10-day visit, which took her to many places of interest in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The historic trip retraced the tour made by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to Russia 110 years ago, when diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in his talks with Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

The cordial relationship between the royal courts of both countries began in 1891, when Crown Prince Nicholas, the future Tsar Nicholas II, visited Siam. King Chulalongkorn personally took care of the visiting Russian Crown Prince and conferred on him the Order of Chakri. He hosted festivities in honor of the Crown Prince both in Bangkok and at Bang Pa-In Palace in Ayutthaya. Nicholas II was officially crowned Emperor of Russia in 1896, and one year later, King Chulalongkorn paid a visit to Russia. His visit enhanced Thailands status in the international community during the imperialist era when Thailand was trying to protect itself from British and French power. The high honor extended to King Chulalongkorn by the Russian Emperor confirmed the status of the Siamese monarch as a sovereign equal to European kings. Prince Chakrabongse, the second son of King Chulalongkorn, was sent for military training in Russia, and later he married a Russian, Catherine Desnitski.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit told an audience of well-wishers on the eve of her birthday at Dusit Hall, Chitralada Villa, on 11 August 2007 that she had received a very warm welcome from the first day of her arrival in Moscow. At the state banquet hosted by President Putin in honor of Her Majesty at St. George Hall in the Kremlin Palace on July 5, Her Majesty said:

It has been more than a hundred years that the Russian and Thai peoples have enjoyed strong relations and have always assisted and supported each other. The Emperor of Russia and the Thai King cultivated friendly relations so intimate that His Majesty King Chulalongkorn of the Thai Kingdom sent His Sons to the Russian Imperial Court to study in various fields of knowledge, and since then, there have been Thai students coming to further their education in Russia to this day. As in trade and tourism, Russia and Thailand have always been partners and close friends.

His Majesty the King and I are both grandchildren of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn. Therefore, I am most delighted that today I have the opportunity to follow in His footsteps on the State Visit to this great country, a country with a long history, refined arts and culture, as well as one that has made outstanding progress in modern technology in the world.

Following the state banquet, Her Majesty, together with the Russian President and other guests, proceeded to the Malachite Hall within the Kremlin Palace to view handicrafts exhibited by the Foundation for the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT), which was established under Her Majestys patronage. Her Majesty said that when President Putin paid a state visit to Thailand in October 2003, he expressed great interest in the SUPPORT foundation, which was set up to fight poverty for poor farmers to earn extra income on top of their main occupation.

In Moscow, Her Majesty the Queen visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, St. Basils Cathedral and Red Square, Assumption Church, the Armoury Chamber, and the Diamond Fund. On July 6, she began her visit to St. Petersburg, which was called Leningrad from 1924 to 1991. The Governor of St. Petersburg, Mrs. Valentina Matviyenko, hosted a dinner in honor of Her Majesty at Peterhof Palace, where King Chulalongkorn, the first Thai king to visit Russia, was welcomed by Emperor Nicholas II in June 1897. Her Majesty said that the dinner was arranged specially in the same pattern as that hosted by the Russian Emperor for King Chulalongkorn. The menu, the dining table, music, and the clothing of the people who served the dinner were all the same as on that day, 110 years ago.

Before dinner, Her Majesty was taken to view a display of various items used by King Chulalongkorn, and then she went to the White Hall, where the King stayed during his visit to Russia. Thai and Russian governments have recently agreed to carry out a joint project to restore the left wing of Peterhof, which was used as the residence of King Chulalongkorn.

The project is part of the celebration of the 110th anniversary of Thai-Russian relations and is also meant to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the visit of King Chulalongkorn to Russia. It requires a fund of about 400 million baht and will take about three years to complete. Thailand agreed to contribute six million US dollars (210 million baht). Russias Ministry of Culture agreed to provide four million dollars (140 million baht), while Mr. Yuri Kovalchuk, the honorary Thai consul-general to St. Petersburg, donated one million dollars and offered to raise more funds, if necessary.

St. Petersburg State University conferred an honorary doctorate in Eastern Languages and Cultures on Her Majesty on July 9. Before leaving St. Petersburg, she had an opportunity to visit several places of historical and cultural significance, such as the State Hermitage Museum, Kunstkamera Museum, and St. Isaacs Cathedral. St. Petersburg will send its famous cultural troupe, Mariinsky, to perform in Thailand next year. Her Majesty the Queen said that she was glad that the two countries would have more cultural exchange programs to help promote bilateral relations.

Story: Chamnong Pakaworawuth
Photos: Office of HM the King's Principal Private Secretary

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