EU cuts back Thailand ties

EU cuts back Thailand ties

BRUSSELS - European Union foreign ministers on Monday condemned the military takeover in Thailand and agreed on punitive measures to back up calls for an urgent return to democratic rule.

In a statement, the ministers announced they had halted all official visits to Thailand and suspended the signing of a partnership and cooperation accord with Bangkok.

Expressing "extreme concern" at developments, the ministers said the military should restore "as a matter of urgency, the legitimate democratic process and the Constitution, through credible and inclusive elections".

The military should also free all political detainees and respect human rights and freedoms, it said, adding that EU member states will review their military ties with Thailand.

"Only an early and credible roadmap for a return to constitutional rule and the holding of credible and inclusive elections" would allow for the normalisation of relations, the statement concluded.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said Thailand was "disappointed" in the EU announcement. He said Europe failed to look at the coup in a measured way, and consider all sides.

Mr Sek called on the EU to review its decision, with a view to maintaining relations over the long term. The foreign ministry will hold a press conference Tuesday to make a formal statement.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Sunday asked the EU to understand its reasons for staging the coup. 

 NCPO chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said earlier the NCPO would set up an interim government by September to oversee political reforms that will be followed by elections in about a year's time.



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