France calls for Thai democracy

France calls for Thai democracy

France has reaffirmed its desire to see Thailand return to democratic constitutional rule.

The message was conveyed to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn by French ambassador to Thailand Thierry Viteau during a recent meeting.

Mr Viteau said he had paid Gen Tanasak a courtesy call and conveyed Paris's expectations.

"We have taken note of the government's road map and are still in an observation phase," he said.

The French diplomat said he will follow developments closely and hopes the blueprint will be pursued in its entirety, with free and transparent elections held next October.

Regarding national reforms, Mr Viteau said consultations on the new charter should be as inclusive as possible.

Democratic principles are universal, he said. Thailand should be able to draw inspiration from Western models to set up a new constitution and new institutions.

The French ambassador said cooperation between European embassies in Bangkok and the government carries on as normal despite restrictions imposed by the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council.

Official visits to and from Thailand have been suspended since June following a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Mr Viteau said he is continuing to work with the government and has requested several meetings he hopes will take place in the coming weeks. France wants to strengthen economic ties with Southeast Asian countries, he said.

Bangkok will host the 11th Asean Forum organised by the Thailand Chapter of the French Foreign Trade Advisers next week.

Mr Viteau spoke to the Bangkok Post after a ceremony marking the centenary of the start of World War I and paid tribute to soldiers from the Kingdom of Siam involved in the conflict.

King Rama VI sent a corps of aviation and logistics experts as well as nurses to Europe after declaring war on the Central Powers in July 1917.

The 1,284 volunteers arrived in France in the summer of 1918 and served during the last few months of the Great War.

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