By Saksith Saiyasombut
The Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper reports that former fugitive prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, is allowed to enter Germany again. Some excerpts from the newspaper:
Thaksin Shinawatra can enter Germany again. The entry ban against Thaksin, in effect since 2006, has been already revoked on July 15 by the order of Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, as this paper understands. The ministerial order has been forwarded to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, which will direct all subsidiary authorities, including the federal police [which also patrols the borders of Germany], to implement the ruling immediately. (…)
The decision by Berlin, which isn’t publicly known in Thailand yet, might further put a strain on the relations of both countries. (…)
The reason for the revoking of the entry ban by Germany is the “changed [political] situation in Thailand” according to government circles in Berlin.
“Thaksin darf nach Deutschland”, Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, July 22, 2011 – translation by me; note: article is behind a paywall
Even though there has been an entry ban for him since 2006, Thaksin was still able to sneak into Germany in late 2008 and even got a residency permit in Bad Godesberg, near the former Western German capital Bonn (which also happened to be the place of residency of the then-ambassador of Thailand) – with help of some very suspicious German friends, including a former spy, a former local police chief, a lawyer and with recommendation letters of conservative German MPs. Both state and federal authorities were unaware about Thaksin’s sojourn to Germany, even to the point blaming their own foreign intelligence agency to have helped him. When this incident came to light, the permit was immediately revoked in May 2009. This was the subject of my first ever blog post, where you can read more details about this case.
The question is now why Thaksin’s entry ban has really been revoked after all? The Süddeutsche Zeitung has reported in June about increased attempts of German MPs, all apparently members of the Christian-conservative Christlich Soziale Union (the Bavarian sister-party to the nationwide governing CDU), to convince Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (member of the center-right Freie Demokratische Partei, which is a government coalition partner) to allow Thaksin to enter the country again:
The phantom [Thaksin] also keeps the Foreign Ministry and the Chancellor’s Office busy. In the past few months, several conservative politicians have campaigned behind the scenes so that Thaksin can travel hassle-free to Germany again. In a comparatively diplomatic way, former Minister of Economics Michael Glos (CSU) has asked Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle if the entry ban for Thaksin still exists.
His colleague on the hand, MP Hans-Peter Uhl (CSU), is already starting to get on many diplomat’s nerves with his pro-Thaksin initiatives. Several conservative politicians are campaigning in Berlin for a policy change towards Thailand, in which Thaksin should become a stronger figure again. (…)
“Thailands Ex-Premier Thaksin: Dubioser Besucher“, Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 22, 2011, translation by me
The article goes on to hint at possible visits by Thaksin in the very recent past (thanks to his new citizenship of Montenegro and his Nicaraguan diplomatic passport) to meet somebody, who also visits Germany pretty often.
This reported revoking of the entry ban for Thaksin couldn’t come at a worse time for Thai-German bilateral relationships, thanks to the impounded Royal Thai Air Force plane-saga (see previous coverage here and here), which by the way is apparently far from over. While most likely the Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya will fume with anger over the reports and insist that the bilateral relations will take a huge hit, more focus has to be put on the conservative German MPs.
Thailand has never prominently popped up on the radar of German foreign policy (if at all) ever since the current administration took over in 2009 (critics say that the foreign minister has not much interest in anything) – the more interesting it is to see the MPs pushing for change. The questions remain though: why do they want a pro-Thaksin policy towards Thailand? What are they hoping to gain from this? Were they that influential on the Foreign Ministry? And why are these conservative MPs of a Bavarian-affiliate governing party?
One has to keep an eye on another prominent Thai’s activities, who will come to Germany more often in the very near future.