Sat, Jan 02, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Long-standing friendship bonds Ma, German official

By Chris Wang  /  CNA

A love for Taiwan and 25 years of friendship with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) are the reasons Karl Lamers, a member of the German parliament and president of the Atlantic Treaty Association, decided to exchange his New Year holiday for a trip to Taiwan, Lamers said on Thursday.

Lamers, 74, is taking part in a six-day visit along with fellow Bundestag members Anita Schafer and Robert Hochbaum.

It was more than 20 years ago when Lamers, a young Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member, and Ma, who was then working as an interpreter for the late president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), struck up their friendship during an inter-party collaboration that brought dozens of Germans to Taipei and junior Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members from Taiwan to the German city of Heidelberg.

That was his most unforgettable experience of Taiwan, Lamers said. Recalling his first encounter with Ma, Lamers said he stood out because “he realizes what he says, does what he says and knows how to convince people — all unique characteristics of a great politician.”

“And of course, he’s good-­looking,” he said.

Lamers, who is on his fifth visit to the country, has a connection to Taiwan dating back as far as 30 years, when “China was still an enemy and Taiwan was totally different from now in terms of democracy,” he said.

Cooperation with China has since increased and Ma deserves the credit for implementing a “peace policy” that includes “three noes” (no independence, no unification and no use of force) that has relaxed cross-strait tension, Lamers said.

China has sent out a signal of goodwill toward Taiwan, Lamers said, in allowing Taiwan observer status at the World Health Assembly and “hopefully good things will happen in Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the International Civil Aviation Organization.”

Concerning the large number of missiles China has aimed at Taiwan and its “Anti-Secession” law, Lamers said that there used to be a time when every Taiwanese lived in fear of China’s use of missiles.

“But in the past two years we have not had the feeling that the people were in fear. Yes, the missiles are still there, but they’re no longer a threat to the people of Taiwan because of the reduced tensions,” he said.

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