Wed, Oct 14, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Eight allies still to sign UN petitions

LUKEWARM RESPONSE Of Taiwan’s 23 diplomatic allies, only 15 have pledged their support to the country’s bid to join UN agencies on climate change and civil aviation

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several of Taiwan’s Latin American allies have yet to sign a petition in support of the country’s bid to gain “meaningful participation” in two UN specialized agencies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) officials said yesterday.

However, this does not reflect an unwillingness to support Taiwan’s cause or shaky diplomatic ties, said Victor Kuo (郭永樑), director-general of the ministry’s Department of Central and South American Affairs.

Having tried to regain a UN seat every year since the early 1990s, Taiwan last month changed its approach to instead seek “meaningful participation” in two UN agencies, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Kuo said 15 of the 23 countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan have signed a position paper in support of its UNFCCC membership bid, while 14 had signed up in support of the ICAO bid.

Taiwan has 12 diplomatic allies in Latin America, but only five — Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines — had given their official support as of yesterday.

Kuo said the rest of the allies have until tomorrow to add their signatures to the document, but stressed that an absence of formal endorsements should not be taken as a sign of weakening alliances.

The government will continue to encourage the countries that have not shown their support to do so quickly, he added.

MOFA spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said the ministry had set tomorrow as the deadline for regional embassies and consulates to collect signatures from the country’s allies. Once the process is completed, the position paper will be presented to the other UNFCCC and ICAO member states.

If necessary, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in New York will also send a letter to all UN member states to express Taiwan’s intention to gain membership in the two organizations, he added.

Chen refused to disclose the names of the countries that had not yet given their official support, citing diplomatic discretion.

Paul Chang (章文樑), ­director-­general of the ministry’s Department of International Organizations, said at the legislature last week that while the road to UNFCCC and ICAO membership might be an arduous one, gaining “meaningful participation” in the two organizations was likely to be much easier than being granted observer status in the World Health Assembly (WHA).

After 13 years of trying to join the WHA, Taiwan was granted access as an observer in May amid warming relations between China and Taiwan.

In related news, Kuo yesterday said that Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo would most likely visit Taiwan at the end of the year or the beginning of next year.

During his presidential campaign in April last year, the leftist former Catholic bishop said he would establish ties with China if elected. Although ties with Paraguay remained intact, Lugo refused to speak up for Taiwan at last year’s UN General Assembly. Paraguay is one of the countries that had yet to sign the position paper in support of Taiwan’s UNFCCC and ICAO bids.

Kuo said Lugo has repeatedly been invited to visit Taiwan, but he has been unable to set a date because of pressing affairs in Paraguay.

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