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PM: Megaprojects will go on

Bangkok Post, Thailand

PM: Megaprojects will go on

By Achara Ashayagachat

25 October 2008

BEIJING : Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has told European Union delegates his government will solve Thailand’s political crisis through democratic means to ensure the country’s planned megaprojects can proceed. Mr Somchai reaffirmed with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on the sidelines of the two-day Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) yesterday the political turbulence in Thailand would not prevent implementation of several infrastructure projects, including information technology upgrades and the mass transit project, an EC official said.

The prime minister said his administration would settle domestic issues democratically and will ensure infrastructure development is not affected.

’’This meeting is very important although no new or specific commitments or agreements have been made, since it is the first summit since 2005,’’ the official said. The two leaders discussed three core matters including the global financial situation; the pending talks of a Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and the free trade area (FTA) deal and domestic issues in Thailand, said Joao Aguiar Machado, EC deputy director general on Asia and Latin America.

The EC president, said Mr Machado, wished the political situation in Thailand could be normalised soon and that conflicts between opposition and the government should take place within parliament and not the streets.

Any political change would hopefully be solved through democratic channels, according to Mr Barroso, who commended Thailand’s core humanitarian role in the Cyclone Nargis disaster in Burma and looked forward to seeing ’’Thailand’s active and strong chairmanship in Asean’’.

Mr Somchai affirmed his administration would try to overcome sticky issues in the PCA and FTA treaties. The EU launched negotiations on a comprehensive PCA pact with Thailand in 2005, followed by similar talks with Singapore and Indonesia.

However, none of the EU partners could conclude the bilateral framework due mainly to differences on some issues, including migration and visa facilitation