Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) yesterday said a long existing “misunderstanding” with the nation’s diplomatic ally Panama had been resolved “without resorting to checkbook diplomacy.”
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli accepted the credentials of Taiwanese Ambassador Diego Chou (周麟) on July 23, about six months after he was posted to the country, the longest waiting period for an ambassador to complete the accreditation process in the -country’s history, Yang said.
Yang told a news conference last night that the ministry managed to safeguard the dignity of the nation, maintain the relationship with Panama and convey the message that Taiwan has moved away from “dollar diplomacy.”
“People might suspect that it we agreed to provide more foreign aid [to Panama], but that absolutely did not happen,” Yang said.
Yang said he could not reveal details of what had been discussed between the two countries, though he also avoided a reporter’s question as to whether Panama had made any requests for new aid programs during the negotiations.
“Both sides discussed bilateral relations on all fronts, including aid programs. We explained to Panama the ‘flexibile diplomacy’ approach and the ‘three principles regarding foreign aid,’ which they understood,” he said.
Yang said Martinelli “has his views on bilateral cooperative relations,” but “we spared no effort to convey to him our ideas on the matter,” Yang said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has defined his approach to engagement with the nation’s -diplomatic allies as more “flexible,” ensuring Taiwan and China do not undermine each other diplomatically and that foreign aid programs must be governed by three principles: “proper goals, legal processes and effective administration.”
Yang said Chou “would have not have had to wait for six months” to present his credentials to Martinelli “if we had offered more aid.”
In the future, Taiwan still plans to launch new cooperative programs with Panama, but the budget for any new projects would remain within the approved limits, Yang said.