POLISH-THAI HISTORICAL RELATIONS: SOME REMARKS AT THE OCCASION OF THIRTY YEARS OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS
The earliest Pole known to have visited Ayutthaya in 1658 was Father Michal Boym, a Jesuit, who left a sketch written in Latin of his stay in the capital of the Thais (recently found in the Vatican archives).
In 1888 Polish-born Joseph Conrad (Korzeniowski) commanded, as a British merchant marine captain, the Otago carrying her cargo from Bangkok to Singapore, the voyage later described in his „Shadow Line” and filmed by Andrzej Wajda in 1977.
In 1897 King Chulalongkorn visited Warsaw and shared his impressions with his wife in 3 letters (then she served as a regent in Bangkok). His stay on the banks of Vistula was given an outstanding coverage in the Warsaw press of the day. His son, Crown Prince Vajiravudh, later to become Rama VI, in 1901 wrote an essay in Oxford „The War of the Polish Succession, 1731–1733”. As a playwright he also added some Polish accents to his scenic pieces. This confirms some interest for Poland (at that time partitioned between the three powers) at the Thai court. On the other hand, several Polish aristocrats, linked to the courts of St. Petersburg and Vienna, travelled to Bangkok to attend the coronation ceremonies of Rama VI in 1911, some of them coming later to Siam on their private visits.
In 1930s there was interest in the Warsaw Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek official contacts with Bangkok. Thai missions in Paris and London carried out some consultations on this issue with their Polish counterparts there while the Polish diplomats stationed in Asian capitals visited Bangkok and wrote reports suggesting to their superiors that Thailand deserves more attention.
In the late 1930’s Minister Pridi Banomyong stopped in Warsaw in his European trip. King Rama VII, after abdication and settlement in England, planned a trip to Poland, but for various reasons could not arrive.
Efforts at establishment of diplomatic relations made mutually in Nanking and Moscow in late 1940s early 1950s were brought to fruition only in 1972. At this time international tensions, notably those linked to Vietnam war, ceased to weigh adversely in Warsaw and Bangkok. An agreement to establish ambassadorial level relations was signed in the UN Headquarters in New York. Ever since the political dialogue and co-operation have continued friendly and unmarred by significant controversies.
Commercial representation was established in Thailand in 1962, while the Polish embassy there came into being only in 1974, to be followed shortly by the presence of the Thai embassy in Warsaw.
High ranking government officials visited mutually, if unofficially, the two capitals ever since 1950s. The highest ranking exchanges culminated in 1990s, with the President of Poland visiting Bangkok and HRH Princess Sirindhorn returning it in Warsaw.
Trade relations had been established even much earlier. The Polish shipping line made calls in the Chaophraya ever since early 1950s, and the volume of trade gradually grew to a significant level. The national flag-carrier, LOT started operating at the Warsaw – Bangkok line in 1977. Exchanges in many fields – culture, science etc. – have been growing in areas, volume and intensity and now are auguring well for the future.