On the morning of January 12, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation from the Committee on National Security and Defense of the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament). In remarks, President Tsai thanked Lithuania for speaking out for Taiwan on the global stage and for supporting our international participation. The president stated that Taiwan will continue to contribute to regional peace, prosperity, and stability, and that we look forward to deepening our partnership with Lithuania while strengthening democratic resilience across the globe.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
I extend a very warm welcome to Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defense Laurynas Kasčiūnas and this cross-party delegation of Lithuanian parliamentarians. It is a pleasure to see Members of the Seimas Dovilė Šakalienė and Audronius Ažubalis again. Your delegation's presence here is highly significant to the development of our bilateral relations and our cooperation in security affairs.
In the past few years, Taiwan and Lithuania have established representative offices in each other's countries. Through these tangible actions, we have shown the world our determination to work together as democratic partners. We also continue to promote bilateral exchanges in various fields. Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) of the National Development Council led a trade and investment mission, which included experts from the semiconductor industry, on a visit to Lithuania. We also welcomed the Lithuanian Vice Ministers of Agriculture, Transport and Communications, and of Economy and Innovation to Taiwan. These visits helped us identify even more opportunities for cross-sector cooperation.
Taiwan and Lithuania are also strengthening cooperation on issues of global concern. I understand that during your visit, you will exchange ideas with government agencies and experts on cybersecurity, all-out national defense, and countering disinformation.
Facing the continued expansion of authoritarianism, Taiwan is willing and able to share its experience with democratic allies around the world. By deepening our partnerships, we can work together to safeguard our way of life. I would like to take this opportunity to extend special thanks to the Lithuanian government and parliament for speaking out for Taiwan on the global stage on many occasions and for supporting our international participation, demonstrating how democratic allies assist one another and stand united in addressing challenges.
Taiwan will continue working to contribute to regional peace, prosperity, and stability. We look forward to working with our friends here today to deepen the partnership between Taiwan and Lithuania and strengthen democratic resilience across the globe. I wish you all a fruitful visit.
Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defense Laurynas Kasčiūnas then delivered remarks and thanked President Tsai on behalf of the delegation for her welcome. As this delegation includes members of both the ruling coalition and the opposition, Chair Kasčiūnas said that its composition reflects a strong consensus in Lithuania on bilateral relations with Taiwan, so he has decided to call their delegation "united in diversity."
Noting that in Lithuania, Taiwan is considered an "island of democracy and freedom," Chair Kasčiūnas stated that as both our nations are on the geopolitical frontlines, possibilities, opportunities, and a need to work together have emerged. He added that this visit presents us with a chance to discuss security, defense, and economic affairs, as well as investment and our bilateral relationship.
Chair Kasčiūnas mentioned that he sometimes faces questions about his work advancing our bilateral relations, which he answers by stating that our countries are united by our "anti-communist DNA." He stated that Lithuania has been pressured and sanctioned, but has survived such challenges and wants to be a role model for all countries by working with others to show that we can make our own decisions freely. This is where Lithuania needs Taiwan's support, he said, to further cooperation in areas including economic affairs, investment, and technology, while Lithuania can help Taiwan navigate new markets.
Seimas Member Dovilė Šakalienė, in remarks, said that it is an honor to be back in Taiwan. Mentioning her belief that we are now at a turning point in world history, she quoted a Latin adage, Sī vīs pācem, parā bellum, "If you want peace, prepare for war," describing it as the motto, the lesson, and the road map for these days.
Seimas Member Šakalienė noted the symbolism of their visit, which falls on the eve of January 13, the day in 1991 when the Soviet Union attempted to retake Lithuania. Recalling the brave Lithuanians defending the parliament and important institutions who died under Soviet tanks, she called for a minute of remembrance for those who never gave in to Russian imperial ambitions.
Acknowledging how Lithuania understands, with all its heart, the situation in Ukraine, which is now suffering genocide, war crimes, and invasion by Russia, Seimas Member Šakalienė said that they also understand that Taiwan faces the same threats and pressure from the People's Republic of China every day. She added that Taiwan is trying to defend its people's right to self-determination, protect its citizens, build relationships with the world, and prove its right to be recognized for its contributions to the international community, such as its work to fight the pandemic. She then noted how it is not fair that Taiwan has to fight for this, reaffirming that when it comes to this issue, they understand Taiwan with all their heart.
Speaking on Russia and China, Seimas Member Šakalienė said that one is communist, and the other is theoretically ex-communist, though she maintained that she does not believe that there are "ex-communists," because that mindset lasts forever. Herself coming from a family that suffered at the hands of the communist regime in Russia, she said she understands what could happen if the world does not learn an important lesson.
If China is allowed to have its way, Seimas Member Šakalienė said, then it would not be a regional problem, but a global problem. One lesson the world has learned, she stressed, is how mistaken everyone had been about Russia, and that we are now paying the price for this not only in Ukraine, but in Europe and around the world. She expressed hope that the next lesson, specifically how important it is to prevent invasion of Taiwan, is also being learned right now, and that by expanding cooperation across the board, we can contribute as much as possible to this process.
The visiting delegation also included members of the Lithuanian Seimas Eugenijus Sabutis, Edita Rudelienė, and Ieva Pakarklytė, and Lithuanian Representative to Taiwan Paulius Lukauskas.