Vienna, 26 June 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: "Thailand is an important partner in Southeast Asia and an exciting export market"

Vienna, 26 June 2010 - "Thailand is politically and economically one of the most important partners in Southeast Asia and an exciting export market for Austria", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger after a meeting with his Thai colleague Kasit Piromya in Vienna. Over 200 Austrian companies are currently doing business in Thailand: "For the people of Bangkok, the most visible sign of Austrian technology are the subway cars of the 'Skytrain' and 'Metro' lines made in Vienna", Spindelegger continued.

The Foreign Minister also inquired on the progress achieved in the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN currently comprises ten member states with a total population of approx. 575 million. The EU is the most important export destination for the ASEAN states. Bilateral goods trade amounts to some 175 billion Euros. Spindelegger: "The ASEAN states and Europe maintain close economic ties, and the conclusion of a long-term bi-regional free trade agreement between the EU and ASEAN would be of great benefit to both communities".

The meeting focused on issues in connection with bilateral relations and the possibilities for further enhancing cooperation. "Cooperation between universities is also an important mainstay of our relations", said Spindelegger. The ASEA-UNINET network is at the centre of student and researcher exchange between Austria and Thailand, and was initiated by Professor Bernd Michael Rode from Innsbruck in 1994 on the basis of a bilateral cooperation with the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok that had been in place since 1982. Meanwhile, ASEA-UNINET has grown into a supra-regional network of 53 cooperating universities in Europe and Southeast Asia.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya also informed his colleague on the latest internal developments in Thailand and on the government’s five-point Plan for National Reconciliation: "I hope that the inner tensions in Thailand can be solved through constructive political dialogue with the participation of all parties involved", Spindelegger concluded.

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