Ministry lukewarm about potential observer status

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 05, 2013 - Page 4

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is lukewarm about a suggestion made by European parliamentarians that Taiwan become an observer in an inter-governmental organization because abolition of the death penalty is a requirement.

A ministry official told the Taipei Times yesterday that the time for Taiwan’s participation in the Council of Europe was not right, because doing away with capital punishment is impossible at present given that “as much as 80 percent of the public is against it.”

The latest call for Taiwan to seek Council of Europe observer status was made by Pedro Agramunt, a Spanish senator and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, during a visit to Taiwan late last month.

Agramunt said that an initiative to help Taiwan secure observer status got underway during a meeting on Friday last week with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who received the guests on behalf of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).

According to the official, who wished to remain anonymous, a number of parliamentarians in other European countries have suggested that Taiwan make a case for participation in the Council of Europe. It could be seen as part of efforts by some European countries calling for the abolition of capital punishment in Taiwan, the official said.

The ministry would consider the proposal “from the perspective of Taiwan’s national interests,” the official said, adding that “the overwhelming opposition to abolishing the death penalty has been a factor the ministry has to take into account.”

The Council of Europe is an inter-governmental organization aimed at promoting cooperation between European countries in various areas, specifically on human rights issues.