The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday expressed gratitude to Saint Kitts and Nevis after the diplomatic ally’s representative voiced support for Taiwan’s participation in the the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at its assembly, before being stopped by an ICAO official.
Ministry spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) confirmed the incident following a report by the Central News Agency (CNA) from Montreal, Canada, where the ICAO’s 38th General Assembly is being held.
According to CNA, Saint Kitts and Nevis Tourism and International Transport Minister Richard Skerritt delivered a statement at the plenary session calling for the assembly to take into account the vulnerability of small island countries to the negative impact that increases in aviation tax under the ICAO policy to promote the sustainability of air transportation can have on tourism.
Toward the end of Skerritt’s speech, an ICAO official presiding over the plenary session cut him off in mid-sentence as he was bringing up the issue of Taiwan, CNA reported.
The chairman said that the issue Skerritt was addressing was irrelevant to the assembly’s agenda, the report added.
Kao said the ministry learned of the situation and was thankful that the nation’s diplomatic allies spoke up for Taiwan.
The ministry’s understanding was that the chairman dealt with the situation in accordance with ICAO’s rules of procedure, Kao said.
In his written statement, Skerritt said he would like to use the opportunity to welcome the presence of the delegation from Chinese Taipei as an invited “guest” and to express the “unequivocal support” of his government to “Chinese Taipei” in its bid for more meaningful participation in the ICAO.
The Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported from Montreal yesterday that Skerritt told Taiwanese reporters afterward that he did not expect the response he received from the chairman.
Skerritt said that his statement was submitted to the assembly before he spoke, the Liberty Times reported.
According to the Liberty Times, Skerritt said he did not think it was a problem to welcome Taiwan because Taiwan had been invited to attend as a guest.
Skerritt said that what he wanted to say about Taiwan was related to the theme of the assembly — “Uniting Aviation” — the Liberty Times reported.
Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Jean Shen (沈啟) led a delegation under the name “Chinese Taipei CAA” to the assembly as a “guest,” the first time in the 42 years since the country lost its seat in the UN.