The year 2012 marks the 115th anniversary on Thai-Russian diplomatic ties. Thailand welcomes Russia’s participation in the East Asia Summit, and they will become partners in a greater East Asia community.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in the late nineteenth century, when King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) forged a close and personal friendship with Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
The cordial relationship between the royal courts of both countries began in 1891, when Tsesarevich, the Russian Crown Prince, 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 Thailand’s 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 also sent for military training in Russia.
In his remarks at a reception in celebration of the 115th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Russia at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok on June 21, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul stated that both countries have seen growth in trade, investment, education, scientific, and technical cooperation, as well as tourism and cultural exchanges.
He said that more Thai students are looking at Russia as a destination for higher education, with over a hundred currently studying there. Meanwhile, more and more Russians are making Thailand their top holiday destination. Thai Airways International, Aeroflot, and Transaero cooperate to offer daily non-stop flights between major cities in both countries. This is aided by the bilateral visa-free management.
Foreign Minister Surapong said that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will pay an official visit to Russia later this year, and that the visit will broaden Thai-Russian cooperation, especially in the fields of energy, technology, and innovation.
Bilateral trade came to 5.6 billion US dollars in 2011, an increase of 41.85 percent from the previous year. More than one million Russian tourists travelled to Thailand in 2011, while the number of Thai people visiting Russia rose to about 50,000.
As part of the celebration of the 115th anniversary of Thai-Russian diplomatic relations, the Royal Thai Embassy in Moscow will open the “Thai Room” at Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University, the two oldest and most-renowned universities in Russia.