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Public lecture of the former Thai Foreign Minister at IFAT

On 5th October 2017, Mr Tej Bunnag, the former Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand held a public lecture at the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT). He spoke of the role played by H.R.H. Wan Waithayakon during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, during which he served as the President of the United Nations General Assembly. The event was organized in cooperation with the Royal Thai Embassy in Budapest.

In his opening remarks, Mr László Vasa, PhD, the Deputy Director for Operations at IFAT described the major milestones of Thai-Hungarian bilateral relations, and the importance of the 1956 Revolution in 20th century Hungarian history and in Hungarian national identity. This was followed by the opening speech of H.E. Jakkrit Srivali, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Hungary, in which he provided an overview of the career of Mr Bunnag.

Mr Tej Bunnag began his public lecture by describing the international context of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, at the height of the Cold War, using both personal anecdotes and historical references. During this period, H.R.H. Wan Waithayakon served as the President of the United Nations General Assembly, and devoted much attention to Hungarian affairs. Under his tenure, the General Assembly adopted numerous resolutions citing the rights of Hungarians to sovereignty, liberty and self-determination; these were supported by the Thai delegation to the UN as well. Mr Bunnag also recalled how the Thai branch of the Red Cross provided donations and relief to Hungarian refugees following the conflict.

Dr András Balogh, professor of history at Eötvös Loránd University and former Hungarian Ambassador to Thailand, drew a historical parallel between Thailand and Hungary at the time, as both countries were trying to navigate the stormy waters of international politics in the 1950s.

The public lecture was followed by a reception, where guests could taste some traditional Thai cuisine. The catering was kindly provided by the Royal Thai Embassy in Budapest.