June 25, 2014 00:00 By Panya Thiosangwan, Pravit Roj
NCPO chief says junta will continue to solve national problems irrespective of opposition from the US and EU
Junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday shrugged off opposition from the European Union and the US government to the National Council for Peace and Order, saying the NCPO will go on running the country.
Despite the opposition from the western democracies, the NCPO would go on solving national problems, Prayuth, who is also the Army chief, said during the NCPO’s weekly meeting at the Army headquarters.
The EU has downgraded ties with Thailand because of the power seizure by the military while the US government has condemned the coup and cancelled all military exercises and cooperation.
“Although the United States and the EU have expressed their opposition to the NCPO running the country, the NCPO adheres to its main principle, which is: the NCPO will go on solving the country’s problems by taking into account the country’s dignity,” Prayuth told the meeting. He thanked officials from all sides for cooperating with the NCPO during the past month.
He said the NCPO would speed up several works and would try to cut procedures to get them done as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the EU yesterday clarified that it had not passed sanctions against Thailand as misunderstood by some, and talks – including on a free trade agreement – are expected to continue at both working and technical levels, according to Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow. Sihasak issued the clarifications at a press conference yesterday after discussing the matter with the EU Ambassador to Thailand Jesus Miguel Sanz.
The EU on Monday had suspended official visits and unilaterally decided to not sign any partnership and cooperation accord with Thailand until there was an elected government – a bid to pressure Thailand to quickly restore democracy, human rights and freedom of speech.
Sihasak said he had conveyed Thailand’s disappointment to the EU ambassador during the meeting and had asked the EU to review its stance, adding that such measures do not reflect on the latest political developments in the Kingdom.
Sihasak, who is acting as the foreign minister under the NCPO, said the EU had expressed its lack of confidence in the junta’s roadmap to return Thailand to democracy. Sihasak said such a conclusion was premature.
“[The EU] shouldn’t have prematurely drawn such conclusion… We’re doing things to return to democracy,” Sihasak said at the press conference, after seeing the EU ambassador.
He said the EU should have shown its understanding of the current situation in Thailand. “[The EU] should have offered moral support to help Thailand return to democracy as planned.”
The permanent secretary also said the EU should remember that any bilateral relationship is a two-way street with mutual benefits and any adverse move, such as the suspension of the Partnership Cooperation Agreement, would affect both sides and the EU should instead look at its long-term relations with Thailand.
Sihasak assured the public that despite the latest punitive move by the EU, investment and tourism relations between the two partners would continue.
When contacted by The Nation on the phone after the meeting, EU Ambassador Sanz said he had nothing to say or add.