Michael Sternberg, Ambassador of Denmark to Thailand, urges all sides in the Thai conflict to start the process of reconciliation without delay.
“The time for a reconciliation process to start and gain momentum is now long overdue and cannot be postponed any longer,” the Ambassador said in his speech at the Reception marking the 70th Year Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark.
Michael Sternberg already urged the Thais to start this process at the same occasion last year following the clash between troops and protesters in Bangkok, that at that time left no dead but scores of injured. This year, the backdrop of his recommendation was more sinister.
“The weekend 10th and 11th of April turned out to be one of the most traumatic in modern Thai history, revealing yet again to the world a seemingly divided Thailand, in conflict with itself, this time resulting in a horrendous loss of life as well as hundreds of people wounded,” he said.
“Instead of showing the world, what we have come to expect of the wonderful Thai tradition of Songkran celebrations, including quality family time, fun and merriment , people enjoying the holydays in good company with friends and relatives, what we experienced – especially in Bangkok – was raw and unjustifiable violence.”
“Let me use this opportunity on behalf of the Danish government to present my condolances to the thai people and all families who have suffered the loss of loved ones.”
” This situation bad for the economy, it is bad for investments and it is bad for tourism. But first of all it is bad for the normally gentle and hospitable Thai people and their desire for living in peace and prosperity in their beautiful country.”
“What however – in my opinion – is really bad is that no solution to the deep rooted conflicts seems to be in sight. I have been in Thailand now for almost four years – a period very much characterized by this seemingly unsolvable crisis. And as the Danish national day traditionally is the first to be celebrated immediately following Songkran it seems to fall to me yet again this year to make a plea that a process of national reconciliation be started without delay – bringing together all the parties to the conflict, that they in good faith and with determination may find compromises and just solutions, which will create a solid foundation for a democratic and peaceful Thailand for many years to come.”
The Ambassador then continued speaking about the climate conference in Denmark in October last year, in which Thailand was also participating, before returning to the current political situation:
“Thailand is Asia in the mind of not least the ever increasing large number of Danish tourists. I don’t think that there today is a single person in Denmark, who has not been to Thailand, plan to go to Thailand or know somebody who has been to Thailand. Thailand today is probably the most popular tourist destination for Danes. Until now nothing has been able to stop the Danes from coming to Thailand. The Tsunami, political unrest, airport closures, global economic crisis made barely a dent in the arrival of Danish tourists. It seems that it takes an Icelandic volcano to put a temporary stop to the inflow of the Danes.”
“But to round off on a more serious note, even Danish tourists, investors and other supporters of Thailand have their limits. And these limits have yet again been thoroughly tested last week as well as by the ongoing political crisis. So especially for Thailand’s sake, but also – seen from my perspective – for the sake of investors and the many Danish as well as other tourists, who want to visit Thailand again and again and who wishes all the best for Thailand and for the Thai people, the recommendation I started out with still stands: The time for a reconciliation process to start and gain momentum is now long overdue and cannot be postponed any longer.”
The ambassador then proposed a toast to Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.