Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Legislators claim China scuppered visit to Greece

NO SPECIAL TREATMENT Deputy Legislative Speaker Chiang Pin-kung claims a trip to meet with Turkish and Greek congressmen was ruined by pressure from China

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

While Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and his fellow legislators received high-profile treatment in the US, Deputy Legislative Speaker Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and another group of legislators had less luck on their visit to Turkey and Greece in the middle of this month.

Chiang led a cross-party group of legislators on a visit to Turkey and Greece from June 12 to last Tuesday. But some scheduled exchanges with local top-level officials there were canceled due to pressure from China, legislators said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus whip Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) pointed out that the group did not receive courteous diplomatic treatment at either country's customs gates and had to pass customs in the same manner as ordinary travelers.

"In Turkey, originally, we arranged to meet the legislative speaker and the economic affairs minister, but both meetings were canceled in the end. We only got to meet some congressmen for dinner," Chen said.

Chen said that when they tried to visit the Turkish congress the next day, Taiwan's local mission only arranged for them to walk around the congress building but they did not enter.

"We were only invited to go inside after the chairman of the congress' budget committee took the initiative to do so while the committee was in session, and the Turkish congressmen were very friendly to us," Chen said.

"But before we left for Greece, we were informed by Taiwan's mission in Greece that all official visits and exchanges were canceled due to terrorist concerns. However, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official told us this happened due to pressure from China," Chen said.

Chen said that the visit to the Greek congress was canceled, and they could only take a look at the congress building from the outside. The group in the end only managed to meet three congressmen for a luncheon, Chen said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said that while the group was invited to join the Turkish congress's budget committee session, Chiang was also invited to deliver a speech.

"The deputy legislative speaker promoted the idea of a direct flight link between the two countries, but the Turkish congressmen were not particularly enthusiastic about this since there have not been many Taiwanese tourists visiting Turkey," Lee said.

When asked about the cancelation of the official exchanges in Greece, Lee also hinted at China's intervention.

"It has not been confirmed whether China has been involved in canceling the meetings and Chiang did not explain the cancelations to us either. But we know for sure it happened because China was pressuring Greece," Lee said.

"The mission was informed by the Greek authorities on the day of the scheduled visit to congress that due to anti-terrorist practices, the afternoon visit had to be canceled. It was not canceled intentionally to block Taiwan's visit," an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

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