The history of Finland’s representation in Thailand: uncomplicated and peaceful existence

Thailand, then known as Siam, recognized Finland's independence on 9 October 1919, when the Royal Thai government's recognition was conveyed to Finnish authorities by the country’s Ambassador to Paris.

Mr Gustaf John Ramstedt was on his way to Japan on board a ship called the Ijo-Maru, when he received a telegram from Finnish Foreign Minister Rudolf Holst asking him to pay a courtesy call to Siam on account of the recognition of our independence. Ramstedt changed ships in Singapore and continued his journey on board the Kuala along the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula towards Bangkok.

In Bangkok, Ramstedt took accommodation at a boarding house called the Oriental Hotel. To begin with, he prepared a Note informing the Siamese Foreign Ministry about his arrival and requesting an audience with the Foreign Minister. Prince Devavongse granted an audience at 2 o'clock at night. Ramstedt reported as follows: “I prepared carefully for my first diplomatic duty. Dressed formally in a tailcoat and top hat, I started to wonder whether my choice of attire was successful or not. In the suffocating heat and humidity, I soon realized that a tailcoat was not particularly appropriate from my point of view. --- At the reception hall of the Foreign Ministry, the situation spoke for itself: Prince Devavongse welcomed me with a friendly smile, but - the first thing that I noticed was that he wore a white silk shirt and short knee pants. We greeted each other cordially and exchanged a few formal phrases about the closer mutual contacts and friendly relations between our countries in the future.”

Thailand and Finland established their diplomatic relations on 17 June 1954 in London with an official exchange of notes. On 21 June 1954, Mr Hugo Valvanne, the Finnish Envoy to New Delhi, India, was appointed a non-resident Envoy to Bangkok. Side-accreditation continued until 1974 from Jakarta, Indonesia, and, from 1983 to 1986 from Manila, the Philippines.

In the wake of tourism and trade policy

Dealings between Finland and Thailand picked up markedly at the end of the 1960s, when a secretary for the promotion of foreign trade was occasionally seconded to Bangkok. In the 1970s, tourism from Finland to Thailand slowly started to increase. A permanent mission, led by a Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, was established in 1980. Finland's primary interest in Southeast Asia was the promotion of commercial and economic relations, but the geographical position of Thailand made Bangkok also an interesting place to observe political developments. On account of the widened field of duties, the mission was elevated to serve as an Embassy as from 1 January 1986.

Today, Thailand is not only Finland's third biggest destination of export products in Asia, but also an excellent partner of cooperation for the EU in a number of regional and global issues. Thanks to increasing tourism and regular flights by Finnair, roughly 150,000 Finns visit Thailand every year. An official visit to Thailand by the President of the Republic, Tarja Halonen, on her way to an UN meeting in December 2002 marked the start of a tradition of active exchanges of visits between our countries.

Text: The Archives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Finnish Envoys and Ambassadors in Bangkok

  • Gustaf John Ramstedt, Chargé d'Affaires (Bangkok/Tokyo) 1919–1929
  • Hugo Valvanne, Envoy (Bangkok/New Delhi) 1954–1956
  • Aaro Pakaslahti, Envoy (Bangkok/New Delhi) 1958–1959
  • Sigurd von Numers, Envoy (Bangkok/New Delhi) 1959–1961
  • Veli Helenius, Envoy (Bangkok/New Delhi) 1961–1964 Ambassador (Bangkok/New Delhi) 1964
  • Asko Ivalo, Ambassador (Bangkok/New Delhi) 1964–1968
  • Fredrik Schreck, Ambassador (Bangkok/New Delhi) 1968–1974
  • Matti Cawén, Ambassador (Bangkok/Jakarta) 1975–1977
  • Tuure Mentula, Ambassador (Bangkok/Jakarta) 1977–1982
  • Klaus Snellman, Ambassador (Bangkok/Manila) 1983–1984
  • Pasi Rutanen, Ambassador (Bangkok/Manila) 1984–1986
  • Benjamin Bassin, Ambassador (Bangkok) 1986–1990
  • Eero Salovaara, Ambassador (Bangkok) 1990–1995
  • Tauno Kääriä, Ambassador (Bangkok) 1995–2000
  • Heikki Tuunanen, Ambassador (Bangkok) 2000–2005
  • Lars Backström, Ambassador (Bangkok) 2005–2009
  • Sirpa Mäenpää, Ambassador (Bangkok) 2009–2013
  • Kirsti Westphalen, Ambassador (Bangkok) 2013–2016
  • Satu Suikkari-Kleven, Ambassador (Bangkok) 2016–