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Thailand Vice Minister Foresees Strengthened Partnership with India

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Thailand Vice Minister Foresees Strengthened Partnership with IndiaThailand Vice Minister Foresees Strengthened Partnership with India

(CTN News) – Thailand’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, has expressed confidence that bilateral ties with India will strengthen and evolve into a strategic partnership, bolstering the two nations’ regional and global partnerships.

Evolution of India-Thailand Relations: From Look East to Act East Policy

During a lecture on “How Can Thailand and India be Strategic Partners?” organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs, the visiting dignitary stated that there had been a lot of foreign policy redirection since the Cold War period when the distance between the two countries grew.

Phuangketkeow stated, “The truth is that there was some gap in our connection due to the Cold War. So the view from Bangkok was not the same as the one from New Delhi. Of course, with the end of the Cold War, much has changed. And I believe we have seen a lot of realignment of relations.”

“The Cold War prompted a significant shift in foreign policy. Also, I believe it has a lot to do with internal changes in India, such as reforms and opening up. And a lot of it is due to developments in my region, specifically East Asia. As a result, India and ASEAN, as well as India and East Asia, have developed stronger ties,” he said.

Phuangketkeow stated that efforts to establish a strategic relationship between Thailand and India, initially discussed 12 years ago, needed to be accelerated.
“And I believe this began in 1991, when your Prime Minister at the time, Prime Minister (Narasimha) Rao, unveiled the Look East Policy.

Following that, we’ve seen India move closer to the region. India became a full conversation participant in 1995. And then, I believe, in 2002, we elevated our conversation relations to the summit level. I need to ask my deputy permanent secretary here, no. 2005.”

India-Thailand relations

He described 2012 as a key year for India-Thailand relations: “And then the year 2012 was significant because India became our strategic partner.” And, if you recall, in 2014, Prime Minister Modi proclaimed the continuation of the Look East, Act East programme. 2002, India became comprehensive, and we established a comprehensive strategic alliance with ASEAN.

So the evolution of the relationship, the advancements, and the broader dynamics of the area have all positively impacted Thailand-India’s partnership.”

Phuangketkeow remarked that India and Thailand would form strategic cooperation due to the profound development of the world system. He also discussed the rise of the Indo-Pacific.

He stated, “Looking ahead, I am confident that our alliance will grow stronger and will not be limited to bilateral relations. It will be a regional relationship, with hopes of expanding to a global partnership in the future.”

“I am convinced that our collaboration will grow and, hopefully, become a strategic alliance because of the expansion of the Indo-Pacific area, which you have mentioned as a significant change in the international system. When I joined the foreign ministry 40 years ago, the name Indo-Pacific did not exist. “We only had South, Southeast, and Northeast Asia,” he explained.

During Thailand’s Prime Minister’s visit to India in January 2012, which coincided with the 65th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations, the two countries signed six agreements in areas ranging from defence, security, and trade to combating terrorism and piracy, as well as an agreement on a Free Trade Area (FTA) in goods, services, and investment, FDI, and a legal framework to deal with non-state actors and subversive elements that pose a common problem for both countries. Thus, the process of forming a more comprehensive collaboration began.

Phuangketkeow stated, “And then, as the economies of East Asia began to move, we discussed the East Asian economy. Then the US sought to be a part of East Asia’s expanding economies. We had cooperation spread across both sides of the Pacific Rim, resulting in Asia-Pacific cooperation.

The Indo-Pacific region is already a commonly used word. Indo-Pacific will significantly impact our collaboration today and in the future. But what is the Indo-Pacific? I don’t think it’s a geographical region per se.

I believe it is a geopolitical and geoeconomic construct. What does it reflect? It symbolises the great transformational changes that have occurred throughout the planet.”

India and Thailand are major regional partners connecting South and Southeast Asia. They work closely with the ASEAN, East Asia Summit (EAS), and Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) groups.

The visiting Thai minister highlighted the world’s revolutionary shifts, stating that the balance of power had shifted from the West to the East, and people were even talking about the Asian century.

He claimed that the Indo-Pacific community demonstrates two major developments, namely the emergence of India and China.

“First, the balance of power shifted from the West to the East. And now we’re all talking about the Asian century.

We are in the Asian century, but will we be able to sustain it? That depends on our ability to meet the upcoming difficulties. But the Indo-Pacific community, which is not yet a community but maybe a community with a tiny sea, symbolises, in my opinion, two important developments. First, let us consider China’s rise. Second, the growth of India.”

The Indo-Pacific’s Growing Economic and Strategic Significance

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar praised India’s foreign policy, saying that people talk about India’s rising role and the extraordinary way it has been able to carve out its “special brand of foreign policy,” which he described as “independent and constructive.”

“Talking about India’s ascent is quite fashionable these days. Certainly, especially under your current foreign minister, people talk about India’s expanding role, growing influence, and the remarkable way India has been able to carve out its own brand of foreign policy, a brand that is independent but also constructive, a brand that maintains India’s strategic autonomy in the face of growing geopolitical competition,” he said.

He stated that the Indo-Pacific region is becoming increasingly economically and strategically important. He remarked that ASEAN’s rise will have an impact on India-Thailand relations.

He stated, “I believe the term Indo-Pacific also reflects the connections between the two oceans in terms of the important sea lanes of transport and communication that connect the region.”

As a result, the Indian and Pacific Oceans have combined to form a single strategic space or domain. As a result, freedom of navigation, sea lane security, and maritime security are critical issues for everyone in the Indo-Pacific.

And now we have an Indo-Pacific region that is becoming increasingly important economically and strategically. And this has a significant impact on the direction of our collaboration.”

And I forgot to emphasise that our alliance will be shaped by another significant development: the rise of ASEAN, which consists of ten nations. Our combined economy is currently the world’s fifth largest. Of course, India alone is the world’s fifth-largest economy.

We hope that if we get things right by 2030, we will be the world’s fourth-largest economy. And we also take pride in that, while in Germany a few days ago, I informed my German colleagues that we believe ourselves to be the second most successful regional organisation after the EU,” he said. (ANI)

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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