President Ma Ying-jeou's plane arrived at Palmerola Airport in Comayagua City, Honduras at 6:30 a.m. on January 27 Honduras time (8:30 p.m. January 27 Taipei time). ROC Ambassador to Honduras Lai Chien-chung and a consultant to the Honduran Foreign Minister boarded the plane to greet President Ma and escort him off the aircraft. The president then boarded a limousine that took him to his hotel, where upon his arrival overseas compatriots, representatives of the Taiwan business community in Honduras, and members of the ROC embassy were on hand to give him a warm welcome.
In a statement upon his arrival, President Ma remarked that the alliance between Honduras and the ROC has existed for over 60 years. The two countries, he said, have continuously maintained a close and friendly cooperative relationship. The main objective of this trip, he said, is to attend the inauguration ceremonies for President-elect Porfirio Lobo Sosa. As a nation that defends freedom and democracy, the ROC admires the peaceful process of the presidential election in Honduras and respects the results, he said, adding that we are looking forward to continuing to strengthen the close cooperative relationship between the ROC and the new Honduran administration.
After a short rest at his hotel, President Ma was driven to the National Stadium where he attended the inauguration ceremonies for the nation's president-elect and expressed congratulations to President Lobo on behalf of the government and people of the ROC.
Heads of state from three nations came to Honduras to attend the inauguration of President-elect Lobo. President Ma was seated in the first row of the section designated for heads of state, with Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández and Panama President Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal seated on either side of him. The inauguration ceremony formally commenced with the playing of the national anthem of Honduras. After a traditional ceremony in which a prayer and blessing were recited, President Lobo delivered his inauguration address. The proceedings came to a close upon the conclusion of his speech.
In the afternoon, President Ma headed to the Presidential Palace where he first met with Panamanian President Martinelli and then Honduran President Lobo. The leaders exchanged opinions on issues of mutual concern.
During the meeting with Panamanian President Martinelli, President Ma specially expressed his gratitude to the Panama government for its long support for and alliance with Taiwan. President Ma said that the ROC does not oppose the development of a commercial relationship between Panama and mainland China so long as Panama maintains formal diplomatic ties with the ROC. In response, President Martinelli stated that Panama is pleased to serve as the base for the development of relations between the ROC and other Central American nations. He also expressed his support for the ROC's participation in international organizations.
President Ma then met with Honduran President Lobo and specially congratulated him on emerging victorious in Honduras' presidential election by a large margin. President Ma stated that the ROC supports the new Honduran government, commenting that Honduras elected its new president according to democratic procedures and the nation's constitution. President Lobo responded to President Ma's statements by saying that the people of Honduras chose peace. He added that Honduras hopes the ROC can provide moderately priced computers to be used by schoolchildren in Honduras. He also said he hopes Taiwan can assist Honduras in the development of rural area. President Ma said that the ROC is extremely pleased to be able to provide related experience. In addition to providing hardware, Taiwan can also offer computer education and training to Honduras.
With regards to Honduras' desire for Taiwan assistance and experience to meet the needs it faces in the rural development, President Ma said he welcomes Honduras to provide information regarding its specific needs, thereby making it easier for the ROC to carry out further assessment. He said he hopes Taiwan's successful experience is able to pave the way for a new face for the rural villages in Honduras.
In the evening, President Ma hosted a banquet for overseas compatriots, as well as members of the ROC embassy and their families. The president expressed his deepest appreciation for their painstaking efforts in the long period they have spent overseas.
President Ma remarked that overseas compatriots from the ROC have a history in Honduras that dates back over 100 years. He noted how they have worked to integrate into local society and have made a prominent contribution to the development of Honduras. The president stated that outstanding overseas compatriots have previously served as ministers in the Honduran cabinet, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, members of the National Congress, and presidents of universities. The mark they have made on Honduras has been quite impressive, he said.
In response to the concern expressed by overseas compatriots in Taiwan's domestic political situation, President Ma specially told everyone that since taking office on May 20, 2008, his administration has aggressively promoted reform in many areas. In particular, new methods have been adopted in domestic affairs, foreign affairs, cross-strait relations, and trade & economic affairs.
President Ma particularly pointed out that since taking office he has actively sought to improve relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, thereby enabling the cross-strait relationship, which had been long in a state of crisis, to return to a path focusing on peace and prosperity. The president said that Taiwan's delegation negotiating an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with mainland China returned to Taiwan on January 27, having completed the first formal round of negotiations with their mainland counterparts. President Ma said that the ECFA is extremely important for Taiwan, as we want to institutionalize the cross-strait economic and trade relationship. This will ensure that Taiwan's economy in the future will not be marginalized and will further foster the internationalization of Taiwan's economy and trade. Signing this agreement is a step we need to take, he said. The president said, however, that a portion of Taiwan's public has doubts about signing such an agreement. In the future, he said, the executive branch each month will make a report to the Legislative Yuan and will also provide detailed explanations to the public. The president commented that increased transparency will help to reduce skepticism among the public. Ultimately, the ECFA will be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review. This ensures that our parliament will be able to exercise full oversight over any such agreement, he said.
President Ma told the overseas compatriots on hand that the ROC government has a high degree of resolve. Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the government's move to Taiwan, and next year the ROC will celebrate its 100th year as a republic, he said. These are historical milestones, and the president encouraged overseas compatriot to bear in mind the ROC's struggle over the past 100 years, including the course of events faced by overseas compatriots, in celebrating our nation's 100th year. President Ma also expressed his hopes that all overseas compatriots will continue to assist the government in developing an even deeper and longer-lasting friendship with Honduras.