Montenegro a Balkan hub for Thailand
- Published: 14/09/2013 at 07:49 PM
- Online news:
The leaders of Thailand and Montenegro agreed on Saturday to use the eastern European country as a launch pad for Thai exports to other markets in the Balkans.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra calls on Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic in Cetinje on Saturday. (Government House photo)
Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic supported the Thai plan raised by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for Montenegro to serve as a gateway for Thai products to enter other markets in the peninsula, Government House officials said on Saturday.
Thailand would be a centre for products from Montenegro to be distributed to other Asian markets, they added.
"The two sides agreed to more exchanges of high-level officials. Thailand will support Montenegro to use Thailand as the gateway to Asia while it sees Montenegro's potential to be the gateway to the Balkans and Eastern Europe," they said.
The talks with the Montenegrin premier concluded Ms Yingluck's visit to Europe before she left Podorica, the capital of Montenegro, for Bangkok. The prime minister is due to arrive in Thailand on Sunday after a six-day trip that also took her to Switzerland, Italy and Vatican City where she had an audience with Pope Francis.
Thailand and Montenegro established diplomatic relations in 2007. Their two-way trade is still minimal, at US$5.09 million (163 million baht) last year, almost $5 million in favour of Thailand.
The main export products from Thailand were paper and paper products, textiles, sugar, canned seafood, rubber products, rice, and canned and processed fruits.
Thailand imports steel, machinery and parts, electrical goods and metal products from Montenegro.
Montenegro relies heavily on imported food for 80% of all food consumption.
The two countries also signed an agreement on visa exemptions for officials and diplomatic passport holders.
Critics claimed that such a pact could be used by fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was granted citizenship by the European country, to return to Thailand by using a Montenegrin passport.
But Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who signed the agreement with his counterpart Igor Lukic, dismissed the claim on Friday, saying Thaksin did not have official or diplomatic travel documents from Montenegro.
Ms Yingluck's elder brother still holds a Thai passport, and if and when he returns to Thailand he would do so in a dignified manner, Mr Surapong added.
Thaksin fled Thailand in 2008 shortly before the Supreme Court sentenced him in absentia to two years in prison for abuse of power while in office.
Montenegro granted an ordinary passport to Thaksin, which helped him to travel extensively in Europe after his Thai passport was revoked in 2009. His Thai passport was restored in 2011 after The Pheu Thai government took office.
About the author
- Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol