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EU restores full political contacts with Thailand

The Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union agreed to gradually resume all political re-engagement with Thailand and to possibly restart free trade talks with the country, now that the junta confirmed the general election will be held in November.

Boris Sullivan

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in its latest release, The Council reaffirms the importance it attaches to EU relations with Thailand and reiterates its call for the urgent restoration of the democratic process in Thailand
through credible and inclusive elections and the respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms.

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The Council reiterated its call for the urgent restoration of the democratic process in Thailand through credible and inclusive elections and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Political and civil rights and liberties have been severely curtailed in Thailand following the 2014 military coup. Freedom of expression and assembly remains highly restricted. Civil society activists and human rights defenders continue to face judicial harassment. The Council stressed the importance of such basic freedoms being restored in Thailand.

In the conclusions, the Council notes however a number of recent steps taken by the Thai authorities. It welcomes in particular the statement of the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on 10 October 2017 that the general election would be held in November 2018.

In the light of these encouraging developments, the Council considers it appropriate to pursue  gradual political re-engagement with Thailand.

The Council decided to resume political contacts at all levels with Thailand in order to facilitate meaningful dialogue on issues of mutual importance, including on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the road towards democracy. The EU and its member states will make full use of such contacts to raise these issues of concern.

The Council looks forward to the progressive deepening of relations with Thailand following the holding of credible and inclusive elections and improvements in the human rights situation.  The EU looks to the Thai authorities to ensure a political environment in which opposition parties and civil society can function freely.

In the conclusions, the Council also invites the Commission to explore with Thailand the possibilities for resuming talks on an EU-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

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