PM officially visiting Germany, France this week


BANGKOK, July 17 — Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will leave Bangkok this afternoon for an official visit to Germany and France today through Sunday to strengthen ties between Thailand and the two European countries.

Ms Yingluck begins her European tour in Germany from July 17 to 19 as a guest of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The visit is significant as it is her first official visit to a European country since taking office and marks the 150th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Germany.

During the visit, Ms Yingluck will meet bilaterally with Ms Merkel, a driver of the effort to tackle the current debt crisis in Europe.

The Thai prime minister will also meet with a group of members of the German parliament as well as with representatives of German political foundations that have worked for decades to empower the Thai people on issues such as democracy and good governance.

In addition, Ms Yingluck will give a keynote speech at a reception to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Germany and will meet with the Thai community there.

Apart from Berlin, the premier will also visit the State of Brandenburg, to observe Feldheim, an example of villages that are designed to be self-sufficient in terms of their renewable energy usage, and the Brandenburg Regional Competence Center, one of Germany’s leading centres of the dual education system, aiming to emulate the success of German skilled labour development to better prepare the Thai workforce to compete with the ASEAN Community in 2015, according to an official statement posted on the foreign ministry’s website.

Prominent representatives from leading Thai companies in the fields of food and agricultural, automotive, green technology, and the medical and design sectors, as well as the Federation of Thai Industries, the Board of Trade of Thailand, the Thai Bankers’ Association, and other associations will accompany the Prime Minister to meet their German counterparts, the statement said.

In promoting Thailand as a regional leader in green industries, Ms Yingluck will lead Thai business representatives to visit the BASF office in Berlin to learn more about bioplastics technology, which is bio-degradable and can be produced by agricultural products that are abundant in Thailand.

Ms Yingluck’s visit symbolises the strengthening of relations at the leader’s level. The trip is the first to Germany by a Thai prime minister in 17 years. The last was in 1995 when prime minister Chuan Leekpai officially visited Germany at the invitation of Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday Ms Yingluck is scheduled to officially visit France at the invitation of President François Hollande.

Ms Yingluck will meet bilaterally with Mr Hollande. Their discussion will be followed by a working lunch with Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French Prime Minister.

The Thai premier will also witness the signing of an “Intergovernment Agreement for Cooperation in Education and Research between the Government of Thailand and the Government of the French Republic”, which will further strengthen Franco-Thai cooperation in this field.

The visit to France will strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries. It will be the first visit to France by a Thai leader in seven years. The last was in 2005 when then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra officially visited the country at the invitation of President Jacques Chirac.