Taiwan should make its calls known to the world, despite Chinese pressure, members of the European Parliament Taiwan Friendship Group told a news conference in Taipei yesterday, adding that the newly established Formosa Club aims to set up a Europe-wide network to raise awareness about Taiwanese causes.
Group chairman Michael Gahler — a German member of the European Parliament — led a nine-member delegation from several countries on a visit to Taiwan from Sunday until yesterday.
Gahler is also the chairman of the Formosa Club, which was inaugurated on Oct. 16 and includes members of the European, German, French and British parliaments.
The delegation on Tuesday met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, where Tsai reiterated her hope of signing a bilateral investment agreement with the EU.
Asked what might facilitate bilateral negotiations on such an agreement, Gahler yesterday said that the delegation’s members are lawmakers, not negotiators, but would express support for Taiwan.
The Formosa Club aims to make Taiwan an issue of interest in the EU, he said, without listing priority issues it would promote.
Over the past few days, the delegation met with a variety of people for discussions related to security, trade, digitalization, artificial intelligence and mitigating the effects of climate change, which are possible areas for bilateral cooperation, as the EU and Taiwan share the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Gahler said.
“We are aware of the global situations, also with regard to mainland China,” he said, adding that the delegation would like to boost relations with Taiwan under the principle of “everything but formal diplomatic relations.”
Asked to assess Taiwan’s diplomatic situation, as the Vatican is the nation’s only European ally, Gahler said that he cannot speak for the Holy See, but he is convinced that it would not give in to pressure from China.
Asked about the Tsai administration promoting legislation to counter Beijing’s political influence, he said that building awareness is important, as Europeans are more focused on the influence of Russia due to its proximity.
People should fight “fake news” at the international level and clarify the line between legal and illegal action, said Brando Benifei, an Italian member of the European Parliament.
Other members of the European parliamentary delegation included Bert-Jan Ruissen of the Netherlands, Engin Eroglu and Ralf Seekatz of Germany and Emmanouil Fragkos of Greece.