Former Western leaders said Monday that Thailand's national reconciliation bids might be time- consuming and painstaking, which they believed would finally bear fruit for all Thai people.
Addressing a special forum entitled ''Uniting For the Future'' at a Bangkok hotel, former British prime minister Tony Blair said Thailand's reconciliation bids would take a long time and great patience among the opposing sides of society, following several years of political conflict and social division.
However, Blair said, the ongoing reconciliation efforts might eventually succeed and benefit the Thai people as a whole.
"The most important factor for national reconciliation is to never step back, however painful and divided it might be. The national leadership must set out to do it with support from a majority of people...Without popular support, the reconciliation will be unlikely,''he said.
The former British leader suggested the Thai society need to review the attitudes towards democratic rule to the extent that it will not only rely on a majority vote in favor of the government but also respect the minority's views and that all sides will uphold and abide by the rule of law.
Blair said all previous happenings remain irreversible and can be taken as a lesson from which the Thais can learn and push toward the national reconciliation process, though it might be painstaking and difficult for the time being.
Blair said a prominent Thai figure will be needed to spearhead the reconciliation bid and bring the others to the negotiation table at which all talk should be carried out in ''sympathetic and straightforward''manner. He did not specifically recommend who should play the role of a leader in the reconciliation bid.
Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari said Thai reconciliation efforts might probably take more than 10 years' time to achieve and advised that all sides be ''flexible, patient and sincere'' for the sake of the ultimate good of the country and people.
''One must skip over the past and make a better future. The reconciliation bid must be based upon mutual trusts...True reconciliation depends upon the will of the people and it can make a difference,'' said the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
He said all sectors of the divided society should step back today in order to move forward together tomorrow and see to it that the Thai society will get united toward the goal of national reconciliation.
Opening the special forum, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she deemed today's reconciliation bid ''a challenge to make a better, stable tomorrow for the Thai future generations.''
Yingluck said democratic rule will not only mean the majority- led rule by the government but the minority's views being taken into account and all Thais respecting each other's different attitudes.
She said the Thais will not simply skip over the past and will realize that political conflict, social division and lack of unity among themselves could virtually render the country apart.