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EU may delay signing pact with Thailand

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EU may delay signing pact with Thailand
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The European Union has decided it will delay signing an agreement on closer economic and political ties with Thailand and is demanding a swift return to democracy, a draft document seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in May, vowing to restore order and push through reforms following six months of political turmoil.

“Official visits to and from Thailand have been suspended; the EU and its member states will not sign the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Thailand, until a democratically elected government is in place,” said the draft, drawn up for adoption by the bloc’s foreign ministers next Monday.

“Other agreements will, as appropriate, be affected. EU member states have already started to review their military cooperation with Thailand,” said the document, which is still being discussed by EU officials and could change.

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, completed last November but yet to be ratified, would boost cooperation in tourism, employment, education, migration, transport and environment as well as allow for a closer political dialogue.

It was unclear whether ongoing negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement would be affected.

Goods traded between the EU and Thailand totalled around 32 billion euros (Bt1.4 trillion) in 2013, according to EU data.

Relations ‘under review’

The draft statement said the EU would keep its relations with the Kingdom under review and would consider further possible measures, depending on circumstances.

“Only an early and credible roadmap for a return to constitutional rule and the holding of credible and inclusive elections will allow for EU’s continued support,” it said.

The EU urged the Thai military “to restore, as a matter of urgency, the legitimate democratic process and the Constitution, through credible and inclusive elections”. It also demanded the release of all political detainees and an end to censorship.

Prayuth said on May 30 a process of reconciliation between political factions and reforms would take about a year and a general election would only be held after that.

The EU document said this announcement fell short of a credible roadmap for a return to constitutional rule.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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