Opposition slams govt for waiving diplomatic, official visas with Montenegro


BANGKOK, Sept 12 – The Cabinet’s decision on visa exemption for diplomats and government officials of Thailand and Montenegro was politically motivated, the spokesman of the opposition Democrat Party said yesterday.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said it was the Thai Foreign Ministry which proposed the visa privilege and labelled it as an “urgent issue.”

After checking Thailand’s relationship on business and tourism with Montenegro, it was found that only 211 Montenegrin citizens visited Thailand in 2011 and Thai imports from the Balkan country were only Bt9 million.

“What is the necessity for such visa exemption?” he asked.

Mr Chananond said he wondered how the government would react if former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra entered Thailand with a Montenegrin diplomatic passport. Mr Thaksin is currently holding Montenegrin citizenship and a passport from the country.

He said the new diplomatic rule would also allow Thai government officials and politicians to conveniently travel to meet Thailand’s ousted prime minister in Montenegro without records of their departures and re-entries.

Meanwhile, Suranand Vejjajiva, secretary general to the prime minister, rejected a report that the media would be barred from accompanying Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Montenegro on the final leg of her one-week European tour on Sunday.

“Though the aircraft for the Thai delegation to Montenegro is rather small, media people will go with the premier. Seats for them were reserved. The government has nothing to hide from the media,” he said.

He said the planned agreement on visa exemption between Thailand and Montenegro, to be signed during Ms Yingluck’s visit, would be exclusively for government officials, and not citizens of the two countries.

The purpose is to facilitate communication and administrative relations of the two countries, he said.