LUXEMBOURG – The European Union will scale back political ties with Thailand following the recent coup, putting on hold the signing of a political pact and suspending official visits, the bloc said Monday.
At a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg, the EU also signaled it will freeze talks on a possible trade deal and said it could announce further penalties if the situation in Thailand deteriorates.
In a statement, the foreign ministers expressed “extreme concern” about the recent developments. The bloc urged Thailand’s new authorities to release political detainees and to refrain from further arrests and remove censorship.
“Fully functioning democratic institutions must be brought back to ensure the protection and welfare of all citizens,” the EU said.
Thailand’s army chief announced last month that the military had taken power, two days after the army declared martial law amid a political conflict between supporters and opponents of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Last November, the EU gave initial approval to a political agreement with Thailand that also could have paved the way for a new trade accord. Negotiations on a trade deal had already started.
The foreign ministers said “official visits to and from Thailand have been suspended” and that the bloc won’t sign the political agreement—the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement—until “a democratically elected government is in place.”
The bloc said “other agreements will, as appropriate, be affected.” Member states have started reviewing their military ties with Thailand, the EU said. An official said no dates are being considered for resuming trade talks.
“The EU will keep its relations with Thailand under review and will consider further possible measures, depending on circumstances,” the bloc said.
The EU is the second-biggest investor in Thailand and the Asian country’s third-biggest trade partner, with exports and imports valued at almost €30 billion, or about $41 billion, according to the most recent annual figures.
Write to Laurence Norman at [email protected]