Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) called for the equal treatment of Taiwan in the international community yesterday as he made concluding remarks at the biennial conference of the World Forum of Democratization in Asia (WFDA).
Taiwan is at a peculiar juncture, where the challenges it faces are external rather than internal, Chen said.
Chen hoped that the WFDA conference would help to consolidate the existing democratic alliance and in turn gain support from the international community.
Chen also praised Asia as the world engine of economic development and for stimulating world trade.
Referring to the widespread repercussions of the 1997 economic crisis in Asia, Chen emphasized the global importance of the region. "Whenever Asia catches a cold, the world sneezes," he said.
Chen also mentioned the potential challenges of democratization in Asia.
Democratic countries co-exist with non-democratic regimes in the region and there is a mixture of developed countries, newly developing countries and less-developed countries that still rely on financial assistance from other countries, Chen said.
"We are also faced with the traditional questions about sovereignty and the new threat of terrorism in the region," Chen said.
He suggested that Asia should set up a platform to discuss and overcome the differences between countries and lamented the lack of a pan-Asian organization to uphold democracy.
"Democracy needs to be maintained," Chen said. "This requires efforts by all the democratic countries in the region. We need to exercise collective power."
Wrapping up the conference yesterday, Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia Chairman Chee Song Juan said, quoting Mark Twain, "An epilogue is a prologue."
"We urge everybody to try and achieve the ambitions and goals we set in the conference," Chee said.
Taiwan Democracy Foundation President Michael Kau (高英茂) concluded with remarks on the importance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
"NGOs are truly committed to the cause [of promoting democracy], not the politics," Kau said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday issued a press release expressing appreciation to Taiwan's diplomatic allies who spoke for the nation in the 2005 World Summit held last week at the UN headquarters in New York.
Nine countries -- Palau, Sao Tome and Principe, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Honduras -- praised Taiwan's economic achievement and democratic reform in their representatives' speeches at the summit, the MOFA said.
"They made an appeal to the UN to implement the generality of principle and encourage cross-strait dialogue, which exactly conveyed the call of the Taiwanese people that we want to participate in the UN and we want peace," Chen said in the statement.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan