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  • President Tsai meets delegation from European Parliament's Committee on International Trade
  • Date
2016/09/23
President Tsai meets with members from the Committee on International Trade of the Group of the European People's Party in the European Parliament. President Tsai delivers remarks during a meeting with members from the Committee on International Trade of the Group of the European People's Party in the European Parliament.
Here's a video
President Tsai Ing-wen met on the morning of September 23 with members of the Group of the European People's Party (EPP) who sit on  the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA). The president expressed regret that Taiwan did not receive an invitation from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to attend its upcoming triennial assembly, and reiterated that air traffic safety is a fundamental human right that should neither be subject to preconditions nor restricted or denied due to political factors.

The following is a translation of the president's remarks:

Member of the European Parliament Daniel Caspary has used a variety of means since 2011—including public hearings, plenary debates in the European Parliament, and the passage of European Parliament resolutions—to urge the European Commission to enter into negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan, and in 2011 he led a delegation of EPP members of the INTA to visit Taiwan. The fact that he has once again led a group of heavyweight parliamentarians to Taiwan this year shows that the INTA attaches great importance to economic and trade relations between Taiwan and the European Union (EU). For this I would like to convey my deepest appreciation.

The EU is Taiwan's fifth largest trading partner, and EU companies are the biggest source of foreign direct investment in Taiwan. Taiwan and the EU this past May jointly organized the European Innovation Week in Taipei, which featured bilateral industrial dialogues as well as a cluster matchmaking event and B2B matchmaking meetings. We are very happy to see such dynamic links and intimate cooperation between our private sectors.

The European Parliament has made a concerted effort in recent years to enhance economic and trade relations between Taiwan and the EU. In 2013 it passed a European Parliament resolution on EU-Taiwan trade relations that clearly indicated to the European Commission its support for the launch by Taiwan and the EU of negotiations for a bilateral agreement on investment protection. As a result of the continual public calls put forward by our friends in the European Parliament, when the European Commission issued Trade for All: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy in October 2015, it expressly stated its intention to explore launching negotiations on an investment agreement with Taiwan.

In addition, the European Parliament passed a resolution this past July regarding this document, in which it called on the European Commission immediately to start negotiations on an investment agreement with Taiwan. I want to thank each parliamentarian for your support. A bilateral investment agreement between Taiwan and the EU can enhance investment protections, and can also encourage more Taiwanese companies to invest in Europe. We would be very happy to see things moving in this direction, and hope that negotiations will begin as soon as possible.

I also want to thank our friends in the European Parliament for their long-standing support for Taiwan's participation in international bodies. Especially with regard to the ICAO issue that has caused so much concern recently, Taiwan has repeatedly expressed—via the European Parliament and many other international friends—its willingness to take part in the ICAO triennial assembly.

We have registered our strong regret and dissatisfaction at the fact that Taiwan did not receive an invitation this time. This is extremely unfair to Taiwan, and represents a serious loss to international air traffic safety.

The Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR) is an important and busy one. Some 1.53 million flights carrying 58 million passengers transited through the Taipei FIR in 2015. We strongly believe that air traffic safety is a fundamental human right. No flight should ever be discriminated against for ethnic reasons or because of the region or country of its origin.

But for the past 42 years we've had to do our best to maintain air traffic safety in this region using delayed, indirect, and incomplete data. I have to say that this is not enough, and it's not fair. If air traffic safety should not be compromised, then allowing Taiwan to obtain direct, effective, and accurate ICAO data, just as is available to other countries, is the best way to ensure air traffic safety. Taiwan should not be excluded for any political reason from meetings held to promote global air traffic safety.

I want to reiterate that air traffic safety is a fundamental human right. It should not be subject to preconditions, nor should it be restricted or denied due to political factors. This is the shared hope of everyone in Taiwan, regardless of political affiliation.

Through democratic elections held since 1996, the people of Taiwan have shown the world time and again that we are committed to democracy and freedom. The path chosen by the people of Taiwan is the manifestation of the people's collective will. If we all agree that democracy is a universal value, then no one should be treated unfairly for having chosen democracy. And no one should be stripped of their rights for refusing to accept certain undemocratic restrictions.

The people of Taiwan have always sought to participate with equality and dignity in international organizations and activities, and to make contributions thereto. This is also Taiwan's right and responsibility as a member of the international community.

I also want to urge each of our friends in the European Parliament to continue supporting Taiwan's participation in important international organizations such as the ICAO, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the International Criminal Police Organization.

Taiwan is willing to contribute more on a range of global issues, including climate change, humanitarian aid, and cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime. We intend to be an active participant on all these fronts, and to make Taiwan an indispensable partner of the international community.

I thank you all once again for your visit. Taiwan and the EU are both committed to the shared values of peace, freedom, democracy, and human rights. I do believe that cooperation will further enhance the mutually beneficial relationship between Taiwan and the EU.

The delegation included more than 10 members, and was led by Mr. Caspary.
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