Thailand and Germany celebrate the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2012, with several events organized throughout the year.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Mrs. Cornelia Pieper, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, recently discussed the longstanding relations between the two countries.
The Foreign Minister stated that Thailand would play a central part in the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, while Germany would continue to be a stalwart in the European Union.
A report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Germany is now Thailand’s number one trading partner in the European Union, with trade amounting to 9,154 million US dollars in 2011, an increase of 14.5 percent from the previous year.
In terms of tourism, about 600,000 German tourists visit Thailand each year. Around 30,000 Germans reside in Thailand, while there are roughly 55,000 Thais living in Germany. With such a strong foundation in Thai-German relations, both sides were of the view that this would be a good opportunity to increase and expand cooperation to cover new sectors like environmental preservation, technological know-how, and health care, as well as the exchange of personnel and technologies.
Foreign Minister Surapong thanked the German side for its assistance in the form of water strainers, boats, and lifebuoy equipment sent to Thailand during the floods. Germany also pledged to assist Thailand with the flood-hit Ratchaburana Temple in Ayutthaya province with assistance in the amount of 100,000 euros, or about 4.2 million baht; which the German side would discuss the project in detail with the Fine Arts Department.
Regarding the recent bombing incident in Bangkok on 14 February 2012, Foreign Minister Surapong thanked the German side for not issuing a travel alert. He also took the opportunity to provide details on the progress of the incident, whereby the police had arrested two suspects and were in the process of further investigations to determine the authenticity of their passports and nationalities. It is likely that these explosive devices were intended for the assassination of an individual or individuals, rather than a large-scale attack.
In this regard, Foreign Minister Surapong reassured the German side of the prompt actions taken by the Thai authorities, who would also give priority to ensuring the safety of foreigners residing in Thailand.
Thailand and Germany established diplomatic relations on 7 February 1862 with the signing of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation. One of the projects marking the 150 years of Thai-German diplomatic relations is the establishment of the Thai-German Engineering Software Center for the Sirindhorn International Graduate School of Engineering, with an aim toward capacity-building of a Thai institution in order to be among the leaders in the region.