On the morning of February 16, President Tsai Ing-wen officially welcomed President Mario Abdo Benítez of the Republic of Paraguay and First Lady Silvana López Moreira de Abdo with full military honors. In remarks, President Tsai stated that we look forward to using this visit to further strengthen Taiwan-Paraguay cooperation in order to spur development and prosperity post-pandemic.
The welcome ceremony began at 10:30 a.m. in the plaza fronting the Presidential Office. President Tsai and President Abdo Benítez each delivered remarks after a 21-gun salute, the playing of the two countries' national anthems, and a review of the military honor guard.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
More than four years after their last visit, President Abdo Benítez and First Lady López Moreira are once again leading a delegation on a state visit to Taiwan. I want to extend a sincere welcome to you on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
I have led two delegations to Paraguay since 2016, and after President Abdo Benítez took office in 2018, his first state visit was to Taiwan. Through reciprocal visits by our heads of state and bilateral exchanges across a variety of sectors, we continue to deepen the friendship between Taiwan and Paraguay and engage in fruitful cooperation.
Over the past few years, Taiwan and Paraguay have worked together to face the challenges brought on by COVID-19. We look forward to using this visit to further strengthen our cooperation, so that together we can spur development and prosperity post-pandemic.
President Abdo Benítez then delivered remarks, saying that after nearly five years, he is delighted to once again visit the Republic of China (Taiwan). The president recalled that when he last visited in 2018, he had just begun his term of office. He thanked President Tsai for her warm welcome and remarks, and noted that she plays a vital role in the fate of the nation, having been elected as national leader by the people of Taiwan.
President Abdo Benítez said that he has come as a friend who understands what it means to be grateful, and that Paraguay has never forgotten the help it has received from friends, especially the help it has received when its most genuine friendships were put to the test. An example of this, the president said, was Taiwan's timely provision of humanitarian aid when COVID-19 struck, which helped Paraguay and the world get through the pandemic.
Expressing his belief that our bilateral partnership can be most aptly described by the saying "destiny unites those from afar," President Abdo Benítez stated that our more than 60 years of uninterrupted bilateral relations have helped guide our two countries' governments down their historic paths.
President Abdo Benítez said he is proud that, whether collaborating in economic or cultural affairs, our bilateral relationship, based on the foundation of forthright communication and mutual assistance, continues to grow stronger. He also mentioned that Taiwan has provided Paraguay with valuable technical assistance to develop areas key to public well-being, such as public health and medicine, education, and vocational training – contributions that will not be forgotten.
Close cooperation, the president said, is the key to stable and longstanding bilateral relations. He stated that today, Paraguay and Taiwan are not just allies, but strategic partners that share the same values and the vision for a more democratic and sustainable world in which all countries can be safer, freer, and have more opportunities for development. The president added that Paraguay and Taiwan both believe in and are committed to peaceful interactions between nations, and that we both respect national sovereignty, territorial integrity, the right to self-determination, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and freedom.
President Abdo Benítez said that as a concrete expression of our friendly diplomatic ties, Paraguay has always supported the participation of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United Nations system based on the principles of universality and equality set forth in the UN Charter, its founding document. The president also stated Paraguay's belief that Taiwan is a valuable partner that can make important contributions to the international community and help countries around the world overcome the major challenges facing humankind today such as poverty, climate change, and terrorism.
President Abdo Benítez expressed the deepest and most sincere respect for the people of Taiwan, saying that they have bravely struggled for freedom and defended their sovereignty and independence. Although the Taiwanese people are faced with continued threats and tense circumstances, he said that they have never forsaken their commitment to peace and continue to be a beacon of democracy in the region. He added that Taiwan is a country dedicated to promoting technology, through which it hopes to change the world for the better, and that these are all reasons why Taiwan is an example worth emulating.
In closing, President Abdo Benítez stated that in this age of uncertainty and turbulent international circumstances, it is even more necessary for Paraguay and Taiwan to continue to strengthen our bilateral relations and cooperation. He expressed appreciation for the history that our two countries have written together and for our relationship built on friendship and mutual understanding, as well as his belief that in the future our countries will achieve greater prosperity and development for our peoples.
Also in attendance at the ceremony were Paraguay Ambassador Carlos José Fleitas Rodríguez, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador Andrea Clare Bowman, and other members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan.