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President Tsai meets Norwegian Liberal Party Leader Guri Melby
President Tsai meets Norwegian Liberal Party Leader Guri Melby

On the morning of November 22, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation led by Ms. Guri Melby, the Liberal Party leader and the second vice chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Storting (parliament) of the Kingdom of Norway. In remarks, President Tsai thanked Ms. Melby for continuing to back Taiwan's international participation. The president said that Taiwan and Norway share the values of freedom and democracy, and that we look forward to opening up further opportunities for exchange and cooperation and deepening the partnership between Taiwan and Norway so that we can jointly contribute to global development.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

I welcome you all to Taiwan. Ms. Melby is the leader of the Liberal Party and the second vice chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Norwegian Parliament. I am happy to receive you and your prominent delegation of party officials at the Presidential Office today. Your visit is especially significant because this is the first time in 12 years that a delegation from the Norwegian Parliament has accepted an official invitation to come to Taiwan. I sincerely welcome you all.

We all know that Ms. Melby has long been concerned about international human rights issues. During the anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong, you traveled there to voice your support for the people and for the defense of their rights to freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. You also nominated the Hong Kong people for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. Your commitment to and taking action for your ideals are truly admirable.

Ms. Melby also follows Taiwan-related issues very closely. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for continuing to back Taiwan's international participation. You also put forward a motion in parliament calling on the Norwegian government to take concrete action in support of Taiwan. With your continued support, we look forward to deepening the partnership between Taiwan and Norway so that we can jointly contribute to global development.

In recent years, Taiwan has actively developed its green energy industry, which is an area that Norway excels in. Just last week, our Ministry of Economic Affairs sent a delegation to Norway to attend the Taiwan-Norway Offshore Wind Forum. This is the largest economic and trade partnership between our countries to date. We hope Taiwan and Norway will continue to generate more fruitful results from our cooperation.

Both Taiwan and Norway firmly uphold the values of freedom and democracy. I believe your visit will deepen your understanding of Taiwan and open up further opportunities for exchange and cooperation. I wish you all a pleasant and productive trip.

Ms. Melby then delivered remarks, first thanking the president for receiving them and for giving them such a warm welcome. She said that the reason they are here is to show that they support Taiwan in the fight for values that we both cherish: freedom, democracy, and sovereignty.

In a world with increasing instability, said Ms. Melby, where fewer and fewer of the world's population are living in democracies, it is crucial that we do not lose sight of these values. She added that she is impressed over the development of the democracy in Taiwan over such a short period of time. She noted that Taiwan has managed something that she thinks many countries strive for: to give our population, give our people, not only democratic values but also basic human rights and economic growth to make sure that they have freedom in their lives.

Ms. Melby pointed out that one of the free world's main tasks is to help Taiwan to protect our democracy and to protect our freedom, explaining that that is the main point of their visit here this week. For most Europeans and also for Norwegians, she said, Russia's war against Ukraine has been an eye opener when it comes to realizing what authoritarian regimes are capable of doing, but also how vulnerable it makes us when we rely on those same regimes.

Ms. Melby said that global trade has resulted in economic growth and technological transfers, and that it has lifted millions of people out of poverty. However, she noted that it has also created new economic dependencies that we must be aware of, adding that we have to make sure that authoritarian regimes cannot use these dependencies as a tool to create changes in the global order. She said that their answer to that is to reduce their dependencies on authoritarian regimes and strengthen their relationship with democracies like Taiwan.

When it comes to the Norwegian-Taiwanese relationship, Ms. Melby said, they have forwarded a lot of suggestions in the Norwegian Parliament, one of which is to reestablish a representative office here in Taipei. Ms. Melby also urges the Norwegian government to support Taiwan's participation in the global fight against climate change by joining the call for letting Taiwan participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Ms. Melby said that they think the best way to not only support Taiwan in the fight to preserve our democracy, but also to strengthen the relationship between Norway and Taiwan is to strengthen both diplomatic and economic ties. When fewer people in the world are living in democracies, she emphasized, it is important that the democracies stand together to fight for the values that we share. She concluded by saying that they will do what they can to stand with Taiwan and to fight for democracy.

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