José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
SPEAKING POINTS - Press Point with Prime Minister of Thailand
4 November 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,Let me start by thanking Prime Minister Shinawatra for her warm welcome today. It is indeed a pleasure to meet you Madam Prime Minister and I am grateful to visit your country – a country full of rich history, but also a nation that has its sights firmly set on an even stronger future.
I am also honoured to be the first President of the European Commission to visit Thailand. My presence here is a clear sign of the importance that the EU attaches to its relations with Thailand.
We share common values, our trade and investment relations are vibrant and growing, and Thailand enjoys a central role in this region. You are a true partner for the European Union and your role in ASEAN is highly valued by us.
Today we had a fruitful exchange of ideas where we took stock of our bilateral relations and discussed ways to strengthen and deepen our ties.
Our bilateral trade amounted in 2011 to almost €30 billion and the EU is also an important investor in Thailand. But we can do much more. The fact is that there is huge untapped potential in our political, trade and economic relations.
The conclusion of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement are privileged instruments to achieve our common aim of forging stronger ties. I look forward to the conclusion of the PCA and to the launch of negotiations on an ambitious and balanced FTA.
During our discussions, I stressed the importance the EU attaches to political stability in Thailand. I had the opportunity to commend the Prime Minister's and the Government's leadership in national reconciliation efforts. You have achieved a great deal already and I urge you to spare no efforts in this regard. Political stability is a key element for Thailand’s future as a democratic and prosperous country and as a leader in this region.
In this context, I encouraged the Prime Minister to continue her important role in the consolidation of Thailand's democratic system. I am sure that all steps in this direction will further strengthen the country's open and tolerant society.
At our meeting we also addressed some key regional issues. As you know, I just arrived from a visit to Myanmar. We are extremely pleased with the changes taking place there - they create a whole new, positive perspective for the development of Myanmar itself, for ASEAN which Myanmar will chair in 2014, and for relations with the EU.
We know that Myanmar faces huge challenges, but the EU stands ready to support the country. As we discussed today, Thailand has also a clear interest in Myanmar's success and we will cooperate closely together in supporting the political reforms and ethnic reconciliation underway.
Finally we discussed the crucial role Thailand can play in the region and, particularly, in ASEAN. Thailand can be an economic hub in this part of the world and, politically, can contribute to steer ASEAN towards common positions on global and regional issues.
The EU and ASEAN are natural partners; we want ASEAN to succeed; and we believe that a strong ASEAN will be good for the prosperity of South-East Asia and for the stability of the wider region. Therefore, we count on Thailand and Thailand can count on us to deepen regional integration in Asia.
To conclude, let me once more thank the Prime Minister for her warm welcome. We, at the European Union, value our strong ties with Thailand and we look forward to agree soon on a Partnership Agreement and a Free Trade agreement, which will be the two foundations on which we can build a relationship for the XXIst Century.
I thank you for your attention.