The Kingdom of Thailand and the Czech Republic: A Network of Bilateral Relations
AbstractThe Czechs already knew something of Siam from reports dating back to the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767). The wider audience became acquainted with Thailand from the lectures, books and photographs from the Czech travellers who visited the country during the reign of Rama V, Chulalongkorn (1868-1910). After 1918, the newly-independent Czechoslovak Republic soon established flourishing economic relations with Siam, giving Czechoslovak companies like Baťa and Škoda a strong presence in the region. The highlight of this period was the 1934 State Visit of His Majesty the King, Rama VII - Prajadhipok - to Czechoslovakia, during which the King met Czechoslovak leaders and inspected Czech companies. These promising initial developments were interrupted by the 2nd World War. In 1948, the communists seized power in Czechoslovakia, leading to the resignation of President Beneš and the tragic death of Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, both good friends of Thailand and its former King, Rama VII. Diplomatic relations were re-established in 1974, but it was not until 1989, the year of democratic change in Czechoslovakia and the end of the communist regime, when the new era of Czech-Thai relations began. Thailand soon became a popular destination for Czech tourists and businesses. The Czech and Thai governments started numerous joint activities, and a new base for political relations was established. The visit of Czech president Vaclav Havel to Thailand, and his meeting with His Majesty the King, Rama IX, in February 1994 was the most important of these visits. Now tens of thousands of Czechs visit Thailand every year, levels of mutual trade continue their dramatic rise, and relations between the two countries continue to strengthen.
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