Lawmakers from Taiwan, the US and the EU meeting in Washington on Tuesday to kick off a new "Taiwan Transatlantic Dialogue"pledged to cooperate in fostering Taiwan's participation in the UN, the WHO and other organizations
The meeting, made possible by the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), a lobbying organization, sought to find areas of mutual concern regarding Taiwan's future on which the participants could press their governments to agree.
"The dialogue seeks to help ensure that a full expression of the opinions of the people of Taiwan is clearly heard and that an ongoing discussion of issues of mutual concern will work to the benefit of the national interests of the United States, Europe and Taiwan," said a joint statement issued after the three-hour inaugural session in a US House of Representatives office building.
Joining the discussion were Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator George Liu (劉寬平) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Min-jen (陳明真), representative to Washington Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and representative-designate to Ireland Parris Chang (張旭成).
Bastiaan Belder of the Netherlands and Graham Watson of the UK, both members of the European Parliament, also attended.
Seven members of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus also joined the discussion, including two co-chairmen, representatives Steve Chabot and Dana Rohrabacher.
"Participants concluded that further cooperation in US and European trade with Taiwan and in the overall US-Taiwan economic relationship, including a possible free trade agreement, should be fostered. Joint efforts working toward Taiwan's participation in international organizations such as the UN and the WHO should be promoted, as well as joint efforts to promote democracy in Asia," the statement said.
"Participants also noted that the US and Europe's policy regarding cross-strait relations calls for a peaceful resolution of the dispute between the two sides, and, because Taiwan is a democracy, [call for] a resolution that has the full consent of the people of Taiwan," the statement said.
The statement also called on China to establish direct dialogue with the Taiwanese government as soon as possible.
Chabot told reporters after the meeting that the dialogue was "particularly timely as Taiwan continues to push for membership in the United Nations. The dialogue helps further Taiwan's strategy for entry. Support for membership will come not only with the help of the United States but also with the help of our European allies."
Belder called on the Europeans to help "put an end to the Chinese obsession with Taiwan."
The European governing bodies, including the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council, "should listen to their democratic principles and not help the Chinese authorities to negate" Taiwan and its population, which "especially in Asia is an example of democracy, of development, of shared values," he said.
He criticized members of the European Parliament who "speak about shared values with regimes that have no shared values with us, and who speak of strategic partnerships with China and Russia, and to silence the rightful, legitimate case of Taiwan's place in the sun in the international community."
Turning to the UN, Belder said "it is up to the Taiwan people to have a referendum on membership in the United Nations."
He said that if the resolution passes next March, "then it is the obligation of the United States as the most responsible power in the region, and also of the members of the European Union, to give a strong signal that in this Olympics year of Beijing, not to escalate, not to intimidate again the Taiwanese authorities and people."
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, described Taiwan as "a beacon of democracy shining its light directly across the Taiwan Strait and in [to] the very heart of Tiananmen Square."
Recalling the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 that prompted Europe to impose a ban on arms sales to China, Ros-Lehtinen said, "The recent, brutal crackdown in Burma reminds us once again that we should never turn our backs on martyrs for liberty."
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