Fri, Jul 25, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Office opening to cement Slovak ties

NEW FRIENDS The establishment of trade offices between Taiwan and Slovakia is expected to boost both investment and tourism, the foreign minister said yesterday

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES:

Taiwan and Slovakia are slated to establish representative offices on a reciprocal basis next week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday.

"Through steady negotiations over the past year ... the Taipei Representative Office, Bratislava, is scheduled to be formally established on Aug. 1," Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) announced yesterday morning.

Bratislava will then set up its economic and culture office in the World Trade Center building in downtown Taipei later in the month, officials said.

Taiwan's deputy representative to Germany, Chen Cheng-chi (陳正治), has been assigned to head the representative office in Bratislava, Chien said at the news conference.

The ministry had attempted to set up the office under the name "Taiwan Representative Office, Bratislava," but this proposal was rejected due to Beijing's opposition, Chien said.

Both offices will have visa-issuing powers, Chien said.

In March of last year, both sides signed an agreement on the establishment of representative offices on a reciprocal basis.

The foreign ministry has dispatched personnel to Bratislava during the past few months in an attempt to prepare for the formal opening of the representative office, sources said.

"Over two months ago we chose the site for our representative office ... which will be in the same building as the Canadian embassy and the Irish embassy," Chien said.

Roy Wu (烏元彥), Taiwan's representative to the Czech Republic, along with his predecessor Hsieh Hsin-ping (謝新平), played key roles in facilitating pertinent talks with Slovakia, said David Lin (林永樂), director-general of the ministry's European affairs department.

Chien has also met with high-ranking Slovakian officials regarding the agreement, the insider said, although the minister declined to further disclose any face-to-face contacts he has had with Slovakian officials.

The Slovak Republic gained its independence in 1993 following the negotiated break-up of the former Czechoslovakia.

As part of the four-member Visegrad group of countries, which includes the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, Slovakia, in November last year, was invited by NATO to become a member of the alliance.

Along with nine other countries including the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, Slovakia is also expected to join the EU next May.

Chien said the new representative office in Bratislava is expected to further boost the economic exchanges between Taiwan and the central and eastern European region.

"For Taiwan, there's a great

investment opportunity out there," Chien said.

A business delegation from Taipei is expected to visit Slovakia in September, Chien said.

According to Taiwan's official statistics, trade volume between Taiwan and Slovakia reached US$19.7 million last year.

But Slovakian official figure told a different story, saying the trade volume in the same year amounted to US$90 million.

The establishment of the representative offices is expected to boost substantial ties between the two countries in the areas of trade, investment, culture and tourism,ministry officials said at the news conference.

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