Bangkok: Thailand’s new foreign minister, Noppadon Pattama, said Thursday the kingdom’s elected government would not interfere in military-run Myanmar, saying democracy was a “domestic affair.”
“We are not a headmaster who can tell Myanmar what they should do. We have to respect their sovereignty,” he told reporters during his first press conference.
“The development of democracy and protection of human rights are Myanmar’s domestic affairs,” he said.
Thailand will continue to work with its neighbour through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), but will focus on issues such as drug trafficking, trade and illegal migration, he added.
“We respect Myanamr’s sovereignty, and if working through an ASEAN framework can help democracy in Myanmar, we will do it,” Noppadon added.
Myanmar’s military regime came under enormous international pressure to reform following a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests last year that left at least 31 dead, according to the United Nations.
While Western countries have tightened sanctions on the regime, Myanmar’s neighbours have been more reluctant to take action.
The 10-member ASEAN, which includes Myanmar, failed to come up with any action to prod the regime during its summit in Singapore in November.
Thailand is one of Myanmar’s biggest investors and trading partners, importing 20% of its natural gas from the military state.
The kingdom is jockeying with China and India for an ever larger stake in Myanmar’s energy resources.