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President Tsai attends 2022 Europe Day Dinner

TAIWAN, May 26 - President Tsai attends 2022 Europe Day Dinner

On the evening of May 26, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the 2022 Europe Day Dinner. In remarks at the event, President Tsai thanked the EU and its member states for their enduring support for Taiwan, for their continued advocacy for Taiwan's inclusion in the World Health Organization (WHO), and for supporting the security of Taiwan and the region.

The president stated that, as we work to leave the pandemic behind while also facing the challenges of authoritarianism, Taiwan is willing to work together with the EU to assist the global community in economic recovery and to prevent democratic backsliding. The president also emphasized that a Taiwan-EU bilateral investment agreement (BIA) can be a giant step in our progress toward an even stronger partnership, working together as partners and friends to shape a more positive and prosperous future.

A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:

It is always a pleasure to be a guest at the Europe Day Dinner hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT). I believe I have attended all the Europe Day Dinners since I became president, except the one canceled last year due to the pandemic. So, needless to say, I am very happy to join you all for the sixth time, and I hope I keep receiving invitations in the future. We can make this a habit.

I want to begin my talk by thanking [ECCT] Chairman [H. Henry] Chang (張瀚書) for his invitation. We had a wonderful conversation during the Premium Event Grand Dinner in January, and it is wonderful to see you again.

The ECCT under Chairman Chang's leadership has prospered and thrived. It now has exceeded 1,000 individual members, and continues to expand its services and membership.

I know it requires tremendous effort and dedication to assume the leadership of this important organization, especially as the pandemic has repeatedly brought new challenges to all of us. The hard work Chairman Chang and members of the ECCT have put into advancing economic cooperation and the trade relationship between Taiwan and Europe deserves a big round of applause.

I also want to express my gratitude to Representative [Filip] Grzegorzewski [head of the European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan]. Since his arrival in Taiwan in 2019, he has been working diligently to facilitate a stronger and closer Taiwan-EU relationship and make Taiwan an indispensable partner to the EU.

I remember Representative Grzegorzewski said in an interview that "Taiwan is a like-minded partner of the EU. We have much in common, starting with human rights, democracy and the rule of law. All the values that are part of [the European] DNA are also an integral part of what makes Taiwanese Taiwanese. That is why it is so easy for us to engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan on so many issues."

We actually did have many meaningful dialogues over the past few years. We have vigorous and productive discussions on trade and economic issues, culture, academic and technology exchanges, supply chain partnerships, as well as consultations on human rights and democratic unity. Representative Grzegorzewski's office also facilitated many groundbreaking forums, which laid the foundation for stronger and more substantive cooperation between Taiwan and the EU for our future.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the European Union and its member states for their persistence and staunch support for Taiwan. Thank you all again for your persistent advocacy for Taiwan's inclusion in the World Health Organization, and for supporting the security of Taiwan and the region. There is one thing I would like to mention here again, that is, when Taiwan was in need of life-saving vaccines last year, member states of the European Union came to our assistance with donations, so we were able to combat the initial spread of COVID-19 variants while waiting for the arrival of the vaccines that we had purchased. For this, Taiwan will be forever grateful.

I would define last year as a year of robust cooperation and partnership between Taiwan and the EU. And this robust relationship has continued to flourish this year. I agree with Representative Grzegorzewski that this is a partnership that is built on our shared value of democracy.

The European Parliament and parliaments of EU member states have expressed unprecedented levels of support for Taiwan. Last September, the EU included Taiwan explicitly in a joint communication on its Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which pledged to strengthen cooperation with Taiwan.

Last October, the European Parliament passed a recommendation on EU-Taiwan Political Relations and Cooperation, which then urged the EU to take a proactive role with international partners to safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, to sustain democracy in Taiwan, and to include Taiwan as an important partner in the EU's Indo-Pacific Strategy.

This February, the European Parliament passed the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), which expresses "grave concern over China's continued military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait," and the threats that they pose to peace and stability in the region.

Throughout last year, delegations from Europe visited Taiwan via diplomatic bubbles to lend their support and to discuss further cooperation and mutual assistance.

As the international community is easing pandemic border restrictions, Taiwan will continue to review and evaluate our measures, border and otherwise, in order to make international travel easier.

Last October, our Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) visited several European countries. Taiwan's National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) also led a trade delegation to Central and Eastern Europe. Both trips produced impressive results.

A 24-member delegation led by Taiwan's Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-Chyi (陳正祺) is now visiting Lithuania and Brussels. We hope there will be productive conversations on cooperation, particularly in such areas as semiconductors, electric vehicles, and biotechnology. All these engagements were built on the momentum generated by the Taiwan-EU Supply Chains Forum and the EU Investment Forums of the past years.  

Through these forums, business leaders from Taiwan and the EU have opportunities to deepen Taiwan-EU connectivity, synchronize our policy goals, and lay the foundation for future cooperation. I hope Taiwan and the EU can continue to work together, particularly on restructuring secure and resilient supply chains, and on green energy and the digital economy to complement the EU's economic recovery plan.

As a result, Taiwan's investment in Europe is at an all-time high. The cumulative direct investment in Taiwan by European businesses has also exceeded US$50 billion, making Europe Taiwan's largest source of foreign investment. More importantly, total trade between Taiwan and Europe topped US$85 billion last year.

As we move toward solidifying our economic cooperation, we can never forget the constantly changing geopolitical landscape and the importance of safeguarding our democracies. Russia's invasion of Ukraine serves as a reminder that authoritarian regimes would use whatever means necessary to achieve their expansionist goals.

As we are deeply moved by the Ukrainian people's determination in defending their democratic way of life, democracies like us should work together to help one another fend off military and political warfare from authoritarian regimes.

In my New Year's Address to the nation this year, I said we planned to strengthen our ties with Europe. As a response to the EU's Global Gateway, we introduced the Taiwan-Europe Connectivity Initiative. This initiative is a joint effort by multiple government ministries and agencies. As part of this initiative, our National Development Council has established the Central and Eastern European Investment Fund.

And, with this fund, we will be able to promote cooperation and development related to semiconductors, biotechnology, laser technology, and other strategic industries. I want to reiterate here, that Taiwan stands prepared and ready to cooperate with EU member states in areas where we share mutual interests.

As we work diligently to leave the pandemic behind while facing the challenges of authoritarianism, it is more important than ever for Taiwan and the EU to work together to assist the global community in economic recovery and to prevent democratic backsliding. In this connection, I would like to note that a Taiwan-EU bilateral investment agreement (BIA) can be a giant step in our move toward an even more concrete and solid partnership. Our future can only be more positive and prosperous when we work together as partners and friends.

Lastly, I want to thank Chairman Chang for the invitation, so I can join you all tonight. And, thank you again, Representative Grzegorzewski, for your passion and dedication to the Taiwan-EU relationship. Representatives of European Union member states, thank you for your continuous friendship and support.

Please take good care of yourselves and stay healthy. 
Have a wonderful evening and dinner. 
Thank you all very much.

Among those also in attendance at the event were Secretary-General to the President David T. Lee (李大維), National Security Council Secretary-General Wellington Koo (顧立雄), Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong (蘇建榮), Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥), Minister of Science and Technology Wu Tsung-Tsong (吳政忠), National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin, National Communications Commission Chairperson Yaw-Shyang Chen (陳耀祥), Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng Wen-Tsan (鄭文燦), and Acer Honorary Chairman Stan Shih (施振榮).

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