Sat, May 29, 2004 - Page 1 News List

President Chen urges the EU to take an active role

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, center, European Chamber of Commerce Taipei Chairman Dirk Saenger, left, and European Economic Trade Office Director Brian McDonald drink a toast yesterday at a banquet held to celebrate the annual European Day.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday urged the EU to play an active role in assisting Asian countries in developing democracy and peace, and to give stronger support to Taiwan's bid to participate in international organizations.

"We have realized that following the further integration and expansion of the EU, the union in the future will play a much more important role in international affairs, including in the Asia-Pacific region," Chen said when addressing the annual Europe Day dinner hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei (ECCT) yesterday.

Saying that the significance of the EU's integration inspired his inauguration speech on May 20, Chen said that the success of the EU, which was developing based on respect for the self-determination of individual countries, has structurally affected the principle of national sovereignty and challenged traditional notions of national boundaries.

Chen said that Taiwan values democracy, human rights and peace, which the EU also consistently values, for creating regional stability and development, and he expected the EU would contribute its experience and achievements to the Asia-Pacific region.

"I sincerely expect that members of the EU can enhance their role by facilitating democracy and human rights in Asian countries, ensuring peace in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific, as well as giving more support in assisting the 23 million people of Taiwan in participating in international events and organizations," Chen said.

Chen also said he deeply regretted seeing the EU vote in opposition to Taiwan's eighth bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this month.

"Taiwan has spent 12 years trying to become a member of the World Trade Organization [WTO]," Chen said.

"We hope that the EU in the future can be rid of political pressure and add its strong support to allow the 23 million people of Taiwan to enjoy the universal values of the WHO, including basic human rights and medical cooperation, hygiene and epidemic prevention with the rest of the world," Chen said.

The president congratulated the expansion of the EU into Eastern Europe by successfully inviting 10 more countries to join it, saying that Taiwan should grab such an opportunity to create not only commercial and technological cooperation but also diplomatic relations.

"While Taiwanese businessmen are endeavoring to march into all of Europe, we should encourage our business leaders to enhance their investment in Central and Eastern Europe to facilitate relations between Taiwan and those countries, especially in the fields of political, cultural and economic activities," Chen said.

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