I have many fond memories from my time as Thailand’s ambassador to the Russian Federation. However, one recollection has left an especially deep impression, as I reflect on the warm relations between Thailand and Russia.
During my first year in Moscow, the two countries celebrated the 110th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, on behalf of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, paid a 10-day state visit to Russia to commemorate the historic milestone. The trip took place from July 2 to 11, 2007, at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin.
Her Majesty received a gracious welcome from President Putin at the Kremlin Palace, which was followed by a state banquet inside the ornate Alexander Hall.
The state visit garnered great interest from the Thai and Russian media as well as the public. It gave people an opportunity to witness the close ties between the two countries, as the two sides fostered a deeper understanding of one another.
A dinner in honour of Her Majesty, hosted by then-governor of St Petersburg Valentina Matviyenko, was held at the stunning Peterhof Palace. The palace hosted King Chulalongkorn in 1897, when His Majesty paid a state visit to Russia as a royal guest of Tsar Nicholas II. Her Majesty was served the identical menu that had graced King Rama V’s table all those years ago.
One of the most significant moments of the state visit took place at the Peter and Paul Fortress, the final resting place of the Russian Imperial family. Her Majesty kneeled before the tomb of Tsar Nicholas II and laid a wreath – handcrafted in Bangkok – and quietly paid her respects to the late Russian emperor. Tsar Nicholas II’s close ties with King Rama V had laid the foundation for the friendship between the two countries.
It was apparent in that moment that the love, respect and deep-rooted history shared between the two royal families had formed the bedrock of a warm official relationship that now spans a century and more.
As Thailand and Russia commemorate 120 years of diplomatic ties this year, it is my pleasure to congratulate our two nations on the landmark anniversary. I stand among the people and governments of Thailand and Russia, as we further build on our friendship, cooperation and understanding.
Suphot Dhirakaosal was Thailand’s ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2007 to 2009.