“Indian diplomats believe us to be very close to China, but this is not so, we need to engage all important regional players China is one, India is another Austrailia is another. We try to get along with everyone we are small players but together as ASEAN we have more bargaining power especially in the context of the Indo-Pacific” said H.E. Mr. Chutintorn Gongsakdi the Ambassador of Thailand to India. He was addressing a seminar on “India & South East Asia : The Cultural Connect” at New Delhi’s Nehru Memorial Museum and Library recently.
He joked that Indian’s familiarity and fondness for Thailand helps to make his job a lot easier “My job as an Ambassador in India becomes a lot more simpler as so many Indians visit Thailand and are aware of the similarities it has with India. Unfortunately this awareness of cultural closeness is absent in Thailand.”
Emphasising cultural similarity between India and Thailand he highlighted the importance of culture in diplomacy “cultural exchanges are very useful in diplomacy, these help in developing positive perceptions. If we don’t know each other fear of the unknown takes over. I often meet Thai monks here in India; I tell them that they are the real ambassadors of Thailand as they on an average spend more time here compared to ambassadors; hence culture is a unifier than divider, culture and heritage give countries context.”
Gongsakdi appeared very upbeat about the future of Indo- Thai relations “Both mine and your Prime Minister get on very well, they like each other, it is something important because in diplomacy either people click or don’t click.”
He highlighted Thailand as a very attractive tourist destination “Thailand is a very affordable tourist destination it is a great destination for honeymoon, summer or winter vacations and is also coming up in a big way as a wedding destination.”