On Poland's independence day yesterday, the head of the country's representative office here expressed his desire to further strengthen economic, educational and cultural exchanges with Taiwan.
The Warsaw (Poland) Trade Office in Taipei was established in 1995 with the main aim of promoting tourism and academic exchanges between the countries.
Since then, the office has helped develop Taiwan-Poland bilateral relations in various fields, said Tomasz Nowacki, who has been head of the office since 1999.
"We have very good parliamentarian exchanges," said Nowacki, saying that three groups of Polish and Taiwanese lawmakers had been to each other's countries this year.
"We appreciate the active, friendly and close cooperation we have with the Taiwan-Poland parliamentary groups in the Legislative Yuan," he said.
With cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, No-wacki said that several Polish scientists and researchers come to Taiwan annually on study tours.
In addition, he said, each year eight Polish students come to Taipei to study Mandarin and the office sponsors eight young Tai-wanese to study in Poland.
"We are very happy with this educational exchange," Nowacki said. "It is extremely important in one aspect that young people come here to study and vice versa because it helps them to gain mutual understanding of each other."
Nowacki noted that two Polish books, Olga Tokarczuk's Prawiek i inne czasy and Wladysl Szpilman's The Pianist, had been translated into Chinese and published in Taiwan last year.
"Taking into consideration that this is the first time that Polish contemporary literature has appeared on the local market, we consider it a success and good sign for the future," he said.
As for bilateral relations, No-wacki said that Poland would like to keep up the substantial exchanges in the areas of education and culture while working to strengthen tourism and trade.
Estimating the number of tourists from Taiwan at 8,000 last year, Nowacki said that due to the SARS outbreak earlier this spring and the war in Iraq, this year's number was likely to be lower.
In a bid to boost Poland's attractiveness to Taiwanese, the office, along with more than 50 countries and regions, will take part in the 2003 Taipei International Travel Fair, which will run from Saturday to next Tuesday at the Taipei World Trade Center.
Nowacki said his office, participating in the exhibition for the first time, would provide information the country's history, cultural traditions and scenic spots.
Poland also wishes to boost trade and economic exchanges.
"Considering the limited size of our exports and limited interest of Taiwanese businessmen in investments in the Polish economy, this area needs much more work," he said. "But we are optimistic."
He said that Poland's large population, sizable work force and the fact that it will join the EU next May were making his country more attractive to foreign businesspeople and investors.
On the political front, Nowacki said that there was unlikely to be any high-level official exchanges.
"Taiwan must be more important for us as an economic partner," Nowacki said. "If Taiwan is more important, then everything else comes with it because interest is growing."