Unabridged Gratitude

Thailand Tatler - Wednesday, June 01, 2005

It was a monumental undertaking: to promote Thailand as a center for peace, dialogue and international understanding through events with Nobel laureates and other keynote speakers and artists. Called Bridges – Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace, the series started in November 2003 and ended in April 2005. During that time, in cooperation with 76 Thai partner institutions and sponsors, the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation organized in Thailand 250 functions with 26 Nobel laureates and international artists including opera diva Jessye Norman, violinist Vanessa Mae, and dancers Marcia Haydee and Ismael Ivo, nearly all of whom gave their time for free.

To bid farewell to Uwe Morawetz, chairman of the International Peace Foundation, and his team, Austrian ambassador HE Dr.Herbert Traxl hosted a reception at his residence. In his speech, Uwe Morawetz spoke of how a small idea grew into a major undertaking that eventually reached an audience of some 70,000 attendees in events throughout the country during the 18-month period. His gave profound thanks to his mentor former PM Anand Panyarachun as well as to privy councilor Gen Surayud Chulanont, honorary chairman of the Thai advisory board and Thai chairman for the Bridges events respectively, both of whom were at the party.

Also attending were ambassadors from 20 countries in addition to sponsors and guests from government, art, social and academic circles. Among the sponsors on hand were Dr. Frank Roesler from BMW and Sunathee Isvarphornchai of Thai Airways International. High society was well represented by MR Malinee Chakrabandhu and Khunying Finola Chatamra, among others.

The hope, according to Uwe, is that this initiative that started in Thailand “will reach out to other countries in the region” and that Thailand will become a true center for peace and international understanding.