Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) called for closer ties with the EU on Wednesday during his first visit to the European Parliament in Brussels.
Wang suggested that the European Parliament push for visa-free entry to the EU for citizens of the Republic of China, who make approximately 260,000 trips to Europe each year.
Visa-free access could help increase bilateral cooperation and exchanges, Wang said.
Belgium is the final leg of Wang’s European trip, which took him to Italy and the Vatican.
Wang last visited the European Parliament seven years ago at its seat in Strasbourg, France.
On Wednesday, Wang was invited to deliver a speech on the nation’s relations with the EU and with China at a luncheon hosted by the European Parliament’s Taiwan Friendship Group.
Wang told his audience at the parliament building that since the inauguration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last May, the new government had pursued a flexible and pragmatic approach toward relations with China and other countries.
Wang said participating in international organizations such as the WHO remained one of the government’s priorities, and he expressed gratitude to the European Parliament for adopting a resolution last week in support of observer status for Taiwan in international organizations that do not require statehood.
Wang urged the EU to further support Taiwan by helping it broaden the scope of its international participation.
At the end of the speech, Member of Parliament Georg Jarzembowski, head of the Taiwan Friendship Group, presented an award to Wang, who is also chairman of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, in recognition of his contribution to promoting democracy and human rights.
In return, Wang conferred a medal on Jarzembowski to thank him for promoting diplomacy with Taiwan.
Later on Wednesday, a similar medal was presented at a separate setting to Graham Watson, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, who has long supported Taiwan.
Watson will run for the presidency of the European Parliament in June.
In a separate meeting with European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering, Wang expressed his appreciation to the legislative body for supporting the nation’s bid to participate in international organizations.