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President Ma meets EP-Taiwan Friendship Group delegation

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of July 20 with a delegation from the European Parliament headed by Vice Chairman of the European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group Wolfgang Kreissl-Dorfler. During the discussions, the president explained the progress in bilateral relations between Taiwan and the European Union (EU) in recent years, as well as the contributions made by the ROC to the international community.
In remarks, the president first stated that the EU and the European Parliament have issued 17 statements or resolutions since he took office supporting meaningful participation for the ROC in international organizations and activities such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He also noted that the European Parliament has also urged the EU to engage in negotiations on an economic cooperation agreement with Taiwan. The president expressed his appreciation for all of these gestures.
The president stated that the EU is Taiwan's fourth largest trading partner, while Taiwan is the EU's 17th largest trading partner. The EU has invested a total of over US$30 billion in Taiwan, making it the largest source of foreign investment here, he said. In addition, in November of last year the EU granted visa-free treatment to ROC nationals. Since then, the president said, the number of visits to EU nations by ROC nationals has increased 40%. At the same time, this has helped to boost the number of countries and areas to provide visa-free courtesies or landing visas to ROC nationals to 128, he said. Furthermore, bilateral relations are extremely close in a number of fields, such as science and technology, finance, environmental protection, cultural exchanges, prevention of money laundering, and sustainable environment, he stated.
President Ma told the visitors that during a visit he made to Munich, Germany in 1992, he called on European companies and Taiwan firms to form strategic alliances in order to jointly develop the mainland Chinese market. Twenty years later, he said, he is pleased to see that his vision is gradually being realized. The president noted that the signing of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between Taiwan and mainland China two years ago has enabled a portion of Taiwan's exports to the mainland to enjoy tariff-free treatment. This, he said, has successfully attracted other countries, such as Japan, to increase their investments in Taiwan. In addition, the European Parliament in May of last year also issued a statement expressing its hopes that the EU and Taiwan would explore the possibility of signing an economic cooperation agreement, he added. President Ma said the ROC government was deeply excited and hopes to continue contacts with the EU in this respect in order to realize this goal at an early date.
In touching on the topic of Taiwan's participation in regional economic integration, the president expressed his hopes that the nation will quickly resume negotiations with the United States on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. He pointed out that this will be crucial to Taiwan's goal of creating the conditions to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership within eight years, thereby helping Taiwan to prevent from being marginalized amid the trend toward regional economic integration.
President Ma stressed that the ROC is a peace-loving nation that places heavy emphasis on democracy and freedom. Over the past four years, the government has made every effort to improve cross-strait relations, he said, explaining that the main goal of this has been to reduce tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Efforts in this regard have been applauded by the international community, he added. The president said that the government will continue to forge a sustainable peace in the Taiwan Strait over the next four years, explaining that he is confident that this will be conducive to peace in East Asia and the world. At the same time, the president said, he will continue to call on mainland China to treat its dissidents better, which would help to pave the way for a dialogue between the two sides on democracy and human rights. Lastly, the president stated that Taiwan also stresses its role in providing international humanitarian aid. Taiwan, he noted, has been extremely pro-active in lending a helping hand and providing donations in the wake of natural disasters in recent years in Haiti, New Zealand, mainland China, and Japan. Taiwan will continue this policy in the next four years, he remarked.
The delegation included European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group Vice Chairman Wolfgang Kreissl-Dorfler and members of parliament Richard Falbr from the Czech Republic, Constanze Angela Krehl from Germany, and Derek Vaughan from Britain. The group met with President Ma at the Presidential Office. Also attending the meeting were National Security Council Advisor Philip Y. M. Yang (楊永明) and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平).
【Source: Office of the President】