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  • President Ma attends state dinner upon arrival in Burkina Faso
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President Ma attends state dinner upon arrival in Burkina Faso. President Ma Ying-jeou attends state dinner upon arrival in Burkina Faso.
President Ma Ying-jeou on the evening of his first day in Burkina Faso wore the boubou, a traditional West African costume presented to him by Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré earlier in the day, when attending a state dinner in honor of him and his delegation. The president was also presented The Grand Cross of the National Order, which is the highest national honor that can be presented in Burkina Faso. Cultural groups from Burkina Faso and the ROC performed throughout the evening, helping to create a festive atmosphere.

In remarks, President Ma first spoke in French to greet all of the guests attending the event. He then commented that President Compaoré during a visit to Taiwan on October 8 last year extended an invitation to him to lead a delegation to Burkina Faso. The president said that today, finally his wish has come true and that he has set foot in "The Country of Honorable People," which is the meaning of the name Burkina Faso. President Ma said that this is his first trip to Burkina Faso since taking office and that the honor of receiving the Grand Cross of the National Order belongs to all the people of the ROC. It also represents recognition by the Burkina Faso government of the success of various longstanding cooperation projects between the two countries. The president said that the ROC will continue with the existing projects and that should both sides reach a consensus to do so, the initiatives could also be expanded.

The president also noted that when President Compaoré was re-elected to another term in office in 2010, he expressed his vision of "building a new Burkina Faso together (Bâtir ensemble un Burkina émergent)." In particular, many of the problems now facing Burkina Faso are issues that the ROC has faced in the past, he said. Consequently, the ROC is extremely pleased to share its experience and resources in an effort to assist its ally in creating a "new Burkina Faso," President Ma stated.

President Ma also stated that he and President Compaoré share many of the same ideas in terms of national development. President Ma pointed out that during his re-election campaign, he unveiled the vision of a "Golden Decade for Taiwan," and explained that he hopes to bring a golden decade to the ROC, which will be characterized by a robust economy, a just society, clean and competent government, high-quality culture and education, environmental sustainability, well-rounded development, cross-strait peace, and friendly relations with the international community.

The president emphasized that in the international community, the ROC hopes to play the role of a peacemaker, a provider of humanitarian aid, a promoter of cultural ties, a creator of new technologies and business opportunities, and a standard-bearer of Chinese culture. Over the past four years, he said, the ROC has worked hard to improve the cross-strait relationship and reduce tensions in the Taiwan Strait, thereby creating regional stability. Based on this foundation, the ROC has also been able to improve its presence in the international community, he said. The ROC, the president stressed, has sought to turn the confrontational relationship with mainland China into a relationship of reconciliation, and to transform a relationship full of conflict into one based on negotiation. This has enabled the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to focus on the pursuit of peace and prosperity. A benefit of this is that space for the ROC in the international community continues to expand, he said, thus forging a virtuous cycle that involves the ROC's relationship with mainland China and the international community. This is not only in the interest of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but also in the interest of nations in the region, he said, adding that this is beneficial to countries throughout the world as well.

President Ma mentioned that Taiwan and Burkina Faso engage in a wide range of cooperation projects. He said that what has made the deepest impression on him is the performance of students from Burkina Faso studying in Taiwan. The president noted that over 100 students from Burkina Faso are presently engaged in studies in Taiwan and they have demonstrated special excellence in learning Chinese. The president told of an experience in which he recently attended activities arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to mark Africa Day and that the emcee for the event was a student from Burkina Faso. President Ma said he was deeply impressed by the student's excellent mastery of Chinese.

The president also remarked that the ROC and Burkina Faso are political allies and economic partners. He furthermore acknowledged the proactive efforts made by Burkina Faso in promoting regional peace. After the coup d'etat in Mali on March 22, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) immediately resolved to invite President Compaoré to serve as a negotiator between the various sides to resolve the crisis. Concrete success has been seen in this regard recently, the president noted, furthermore recognizing the contributions made by President Compaoré in helping to resolve the conflict.

President Ma also stated that Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole in February of this year was decorated by the president of Sudan in recognition of his outstanding contributions as a negotiator involving the United Nations and the African Union on the Darfur crisis. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso’s former Prime Minister and current Ambassador to the European Union Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo was also elected as new President of the ECOWAS Commission. All of this demonstrates that the international community recognizes the work carried out by Burkina Faso to promote regional peace and stability. It also highlights Burkina Faso's willingness to play the role of peacemaker in the international community, he said. President Ma said that this is an area in which the ROC should learn from its ally.

With respect to the well over 10,000 refugees from Mali who have fled to Burkina Faso, President Ma said that the ROC government, as a friend to Burkina Faso, is willing to provide what it can to assist Burkina Faso in dealing with the impact of this situation. He said the ROC hopes to reduce the burden on Burkina Faso and enable its ally to continue to play the role of peacemaker in the region.

Lastly, President Ma expressed his gratitude to President Compaoré for hosting the banquet and raised his glass to toast his counterpart and wish him and his country good fortune, along with everlasting friendship between the two nations.
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