Srettha declares his Italy visit a success


Prime Minister Srettha says his talks with Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni yielded ‘pleasing results’

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Wednesday declared his five-day official trip to Italy a great success after he won several pledges of cooperation from his Italian counterpart.

Speaking to reporters when he concluded his Italian trip on Wednesday and before he left for the 29th Nikkei Forum Future of Asia in Tokyo from May 22 to 24, Srettha said his talks with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday yielded “pleasing results”.

He said it was a good opportunity for Thailand for him to meet the Italian prime minister because she is also a leader of the Group of Seven. With this position, the Italian prime minister could lobby other G7 nations in favour of Thailand, Srettha added.

Srettha declares his Italy visit a success

Srettha recounted that the meeting’s atmosphere was not tense and the two sides started out by talking about long-term bilateral ties.

Srettha said he also raised the issue of Thailand seeking a Schengen visa exemption and the Italian prime minister was the first foreign government leader to ask him why.

“I explained that apart from convenience for people of the two countries, the Schengen visa exemption would make it more convenient for Thai businesspeople to visit Europe to negotiate trade deals,” he said.

He also told his Italian counterpart that it took a long time for Thais to obtain a Schengen entry visa. He said Meloni promised to support Thailand’s proposal of Schengen visa exemption.

Srettha declares his Italy visit a success

Srettha said she also pledged support for a free-trade agreement between Thailand and Italy to make it more convenient for Italian businesses to use Thailand as a production base for exports.

The two prime ministers also discussed security cooperation, Srettha said, adding that the two sides agreed in principle on arms procurement and cooperating to develop their armed forces.

Srettha said the Thai military attaché to Italy would coordinate with the Italian armed forces on joint military exercises and exchange of military technologies.
He said the Italian side also promised to exchange fashion expertise with Thailand as Italy has been much more advanced in fashion fields.

The Thai prime minister said Italy also expressed interest in investing in clean energy in Thailand and to carry out natural-gas exploration in the overlapping claims area with Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand.

Srettha said Italy also proposed that Thailand send farm workers during the harvest season.

He said the talk with Meloni took about an hour and 15 minutes before the two leaders had lunch together.

During lunch, Srettha said, Thai Transport Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit sold the southern land bridge project, while the Italian side expressed interest in winning airport construction projects for Italian firms.

Srettha declares his Italy visit a success

Srettha said he also proposed that Meloni visit Thailand officially in September but she replied that she would be busy with G7 meetings. She said she might make an official visit to the kingdom in February next year.

Srettha said he also invited Meloni to visit Phuket, as her seven-year-old daughter might enjoy the tourist-destination island province.

Srettha added that the Italian government also agreed to Thailand's request to open direct flights from Bangkok to Milan on July 1 and to open Bangkok-Rome flights in the winter season.

“We got more than what was expected from this Italy trip as clear-cut timeframes were set for several issues,” Srettha said.
“I’m very pleased with the overall results of the trip during the past several days.”

Srettha added that he would have the Thai ambassador to Italy follow up on the meeting’s results without waiting for Meloni to make a reciprocal visit in February.

The prime minister said he might visit India and Africa as well as Turkey in the third or fourth quarter this year.

Srettha added that after he returns from Tokyo on Friday, he would make inspection trips in Bangkok and surrounding provinces to follow up on the progress of several projects.