Vienna, 24 March 2005 - Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik met the new Foreign Minister of Thailand, Mr. Kantathi Suphamongkhon, for talks in Bangkok on 24 March. During her journey to Asia, the Foreign Minister will visit the Kingdom of Thailand and the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.
Plassnik seized the opportunity of the meeting to once again convey Austria's condolences for the victims of the tsunami disaster of 26 December. "This visit is also a chance for me to thank the people and the government of Thailand for their solidarity and cooperation in assisting the Austrian tsunami victims," said the Foreign Minister. Moreover, she stressed that Austria would be a reliable partner supporting Thailand in the reconstruction work.
The talks also focused on issues concerning the bilateral relations between Austria and Thailand.
Both politically and economically, Thailand is one of the most important partners of Austria in South-East Asia, and also an interesting export market. At present, about 100 Austrian companies run representations or sales offices in Thailand. One of the showcase projects was the new Bangkok subway which went operational in July 2004 with trains supplied by Siemens Austria.
In 2004 an inter-ministerial working group chaired by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs developed a custom-made strategy to intensify economic relations with Thailand. In particular, the two Foreign Ministers discussed opportunities of deepened cooperation in the fields of environment and energy as well as railways.
The agenda also included issues of multilateral cooperation. Austria and Thailand are active members of the "Human Security Network", which Thailand will chair for a year, starting in May 2005. The network is an interdisciplinary community of interests of 13 states which aims at anchoring the security needs of the individual more firmly as a guideline for national and international policymaking.