Ragunda delegation in Bangkok receive full support by Minister of Culture

“A real breakthrough,” say four representatives from Ragunda municipality and the county of Jämtland after meeting their Thai counterparts in Bangkok 5-9 December to outline the next phase of what began as a Thai pavilion construction in Ragunda to commemorate HM King Chulalongkorn´s visit there 19 July 1897.
     The pavilion has cemented a new and stronger relationship between Thailand and Sweden. Having secured the friendship, time has come for concrete actions.
     “Now we must go from relation building to activities,” says Ms Elisabet Yngström, who will take over as head of Ragunda´s local government next year.
     The Swedish group to Bangkok consisted of her, Jämtland County Governor Ms Maggi Mikaelsson, Ms Gunnel Hedman, Adviser delegation for Northern Sweden at the Ministry of Industry Employment and Communications and Mr Göran Lundström, Director International Relations Ragunda municipality
     During the past summer’s annual celebration of King Chulalongkorn´s visit to Sweden, held July 2003 in Ragunda along with a high level conference on culture and environment, it was decided that a Thai Cultural centre for northern Europe will be built in Ragunda and that a library will be the first part of that venture.
     Since then has Ragunda municipality purchased a building for the library and information center. Operational expenses for the property will be covered by Ragunda for the coming three years.
     “Thailand’s Minister of Culture Anurak Churimat met us now and promised to seek funding in the upcoming state budget to finance supply of Thai information material to the library,” says the group to Scandasia. “With that level of commitment from the Minister, and other Thais, we feel that we have reached a breakthrough. The pavilion and all that has happened around it is now met with acceptance and understanding, for example by Swedish industry leaders who until the Swedish state visit in February never really knew how important King Chulalongkorn was and is to Thailand. Being here during the state visit they found out. Then we had the conference in Ragunda in July, and now this positive follow up meeting in Bangkok on the decisions made this summer.”
     More culture centre progress will be reported during the spring. The next bilateral meeting will be held in Sweden, tentatively in May.
     “Among concrete activities we have discussed is a Thailand week and a Swedish Thai design year,” says Maggi Mikaelsson. “Health care is also an area we like to see explored. Thai massage and other traditional treatments here would add quality to life and increase the wellness of Swedish patients.”
     Student exchange and education, research and development are other areas that will be brought up between Bangkok and Ragunda.

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