President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he hoped to further develop relations with countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, an apparent deviation from his previous proposal of a “diplomatic truce” with Beijing.
Ma made the remarks yesterday morning while receiving Hungarian Congressman Jeno Lasztovicza at the Presidential Office.
Ma told the delegation — the largest of its kind since Hungary’s representative office was established in Taiwan in 1990 — that his foreign policy would be different from that of the previous administration.
“On the one hand, we will strengthen friendships with our diplomatic allies. On the other, we will cherish friendly and cooperative relations with countries that do not have diplomatic relations with us,” he said. “As both sides of the Taiwan Strait improve their relations, we hope to further develop ties with non-diplomatic allies.”
In line with Ma’s “diplomatic truce” with Beijing, Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) had previously said that Taiwan would concentrate more on cementing ties with existing allies rather than seeking to make new friends.
Taiwan’s relations with Hungary reached a low point in 2002 when Beijing lodged a protest after then vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) visited Hungary and boasted about a diplomatic breakthrough.
Ma yesterday expressed appreciation that members of the Taiwan Friendship Group at the Hungarian parliament had grown over the years, from 20 to 30 members.
Ma said there was much room for growth in bilateral trade with Hungary. As Taiwan had a trade surplus, Ma said he hoped his country would buy more goods from Hungary to balance the trade inequality.
As EU investment in Taiwan was more than that of the US and Japan, Ma said the country would continue to strengthen its relationships with its EU partners.