First Female Thai Ambassador to Denmark

Her Excellency Mrs. Cholchineepan Chiranond has recently assumed her position as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Denmark in January 2008. She is the first female Thai Ambassador to ever be posted in Denmark.
Mrs. Cholchineepan Chiranond arrived to Copenhagen, Denmark on the 24th January 2008 to assume the position as Ambassador of Thailand to Denmark after His Excellency Mr. Chaisiri Anamarn, the former Ambassador, who returned to Thailand last year after three years of posting.
Being a woman working in the diplomatic field does not hinder Mrs. Cholchineepan from going up the ladder. Having served the ministry for over three decades, Mrs. Cholchineepan has shown great achievements over the years with tremendous efforts to do good for the nation.
Mrs. Cholchineepan attended Sathit Chulalongkorn School, where she received an AFS scholarship to the United States of America and completed her last year of high school. After returning to Bangkok, she then received scholarships from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and went back to the United States again to complete her Bachelor’s degree at Cornell University and her Master’s at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

From AFS student to Ambassdor
“When I went to the States on AFS scholarship, it gave me the opportunity to learn English, which led me to the career I have today,” said Mrs. Cholchineepan.
“I started to be more interested in communication and interaction with people and saw the world in a wider perspective. I was also on MFA’s scholarship for quite some time and the condition of this scholarship is that you have to come back to work at the ministry twice the years that you have used the scholarship. I have completed all the terms but I like my career so I didn’t leave the ministry. Now I have worked for the ministry for more than 30 years,” she added.
Mrs. Cholchineepan joined the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1975. After four years of handling and attending to the country’s large influx of Cambodian and Burmese refugees, she was assigned to her first four-year post in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Mrs. Cholchineepan stated that she enjoyed her stay in Malaysia and found all her tasks challenging but being a woman working in a male dominated career can also be very demanding.
Mrs. Cholchineepan was married with one daughter at the time of her posting in Malaysia. Her husband is also an official at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When she returned to Bangkok, she was assigned to collaborate with ESCAP, which is a subdivision of the United Nations with its regional office located in Bangkok.

United With The Family
Upon her second posting abroad, she requested to the ministry that she wished to be posted in the same region with her husband if not in the same country. Her request was granted and her post to Italy was the first and only post where she was placed together with her husband. 
“We were together in Italy for three years but that was the most wonderful moment of my life, where the whole family can be together. Before that we hardly had time together,” the Ambassador said.
When Mrs. Cholchineepan returned to Bangkok, her new task was to administer the ASEAN management and policies with regards to the members’ relationship with Thailand. The Ambassador said that it was a hard and challenging responsibility but she took pride in this task as ASEAN is one of Thailand’s main policies, where good relationships with neighboring countries and other ASEAN members are significant.
After a few years, Mrs. Cholchineepan was promoted again and assigned to her third post as Minister of the Royal Thai Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. That time, her daughter stayed with her, while her husband was posted in New York. When she returned to Bangkok, she was promoted as the Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was responsible for the East and Southeast Asian affairs. 
After many years of experience and work emphasis on Asian matters, Mrs. Cholchineepan was assigned director of the European Affairs Department.
“At first I was rather uncertain of the task because I hardly had any experience with Europe except my three years in Italy. But it was a different and challenging job and I had to do a lot of reading and study in order to learn more about Europe,” Mrs. Cholchineepan said.

First Posting as Ambassador
Mrs. Cholchineepan was then transferred to the Department of International Organizations, where she remained the Director General for 6 years. Then she was promoted and assigned to her first post as Ambassador in Berlin, Germany.
“It was the biggest and most important post because there are almost one hundred thousand Thais living in Germany both legally and illegally,” the Ambassador said. 
“The main responsibility of the embassy, which every government emphasizes, is to look after the well being of the Thais living in that country. But with that great amount of people, it is quite difficult to see to everybody’s problems even though we also have a Thai Consulate General in Frankfurt,” she added.

Sacrificing Family Life
At the time of her post in Berlin, Mrs. Cholchineepan’s husband was also posted in Sri Lanka as Ambassador. She said that it was a difficult period of life as the family was separated in three different continents. While she was in Germany and her husband in Sri Lanka, her daughter decided to stay in Canada and continued her studies. Thus it was hard for the family to get together.
“That is one great weakness for working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs especially when you are a woman,” the Ambassador said.
“You may have done a lot for your country but at the same time you have to sacrifice your family time. It’s best for women who want to join the ministry to think over what the priorities in their life are,” she added.
The Ambassador is soon bound to retire along with her husband. She also mentioned that she and her husband are the first and only couple in the ministry, whom are both holding the Ambassador positions and that such phenomenon has never been repeated again.
When she returned to Bangkok, the 57 year old Ambassador embarked another position as Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She then requested to the ministry of her wish to retire abroad and was subsequently assigned to Copenhagen, Denmark.
“I’m glad to be back in Europe again,” Mrs. Cholchineepan said.
“Denmark has very good terms with Thailand especially the royal families. What I would like to do is to maintain this good relationship and will also do the best I can to help Thai people in Denmark as it is also going to be my last post,” she added.

New House for Thai Elephants
King Bhumibhol Aduljadej has given four elephants to Denmark as gifts to the Danish royal family. The Copenhagen zoo has been building a new elephant pen and is due to be completed this coming June. Mrs. Cholchineepan said that she will use this opportunity to invite the Danish royal family to preside over the opening ceremony, where this celebration will also coincide with this year’s 150th anniversary of diplomacy between Thailand and Denmark. The Ambassador plans to commemorate the two special events with many cultural performances as it is also an opportunity to promote Thai culture in Denmark.
“Actually, the first Dane that set foot in Thailand was over 400 years ago, according to the history, but the real diplomatic relations began 150 years ago. So I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the anniversary as well as the opening of the elephant pen at the zoo,” the Ambassador said.
The Ambassador also stated that Denmark has the highest percentage of tourists visiting Thailand in all of Europe. Even though the number is less compared to UK and Germany but when considering the Danish population of about five millions, it can be said that one out of every third Dane has been to Thailand.
“Once the Danes have been to Thailand, it is most likely that they will go back again,” the Ambassador said.
“Danes like Thai people, Thai food and culture and that we are the land of smiles. And in return, they are also kind to the Thais living in Denmark and see them in a different perspective. So it is best to maintain this positive relation between the two countries,” she added.

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