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EU won't revoke Taiwanese visa waiver because of fraudsters: envoy

2018/03/13 12:21:00

Image taken by Pixabay

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) The European Union's (EU) top envoy to Taiwan on Monday said the EU will not revoke the visa-free entry it granted to Taiwan passport holders just because some Taiwanese have engaged in illegal activities in Europe.

Madeleine Majorenko, head of the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO), said the EU would never hold the crimes of individuals against Taiwan as a whole, when asked to comment on concerns the EU could revoke the the visa-waiver treatment of ROC passport holders to the Schengen Area, in the wake of several hundred Taiwanese being arrested in the EU for their alleged involvement in telecommunication fraud over the past few years.

"That would absolutely never happen," she told reporters in Taipei.

"We believe that every person takes responsibility for their own actions and we will pursue them according to all the legal means we have. We will use the full legal system to pursue them."

"But we will never turn that against Taiwan. We do not believe in collective punishment," she noted.

Majorenko said if the EU held all Taiwanese responsible for the criminal activities of some individuals that would be a form of "collective punishment."

"It's inconceivable and I honestly am surprised that anybody would think we would act like that."

A retired Taiwanese diplomat previously raised the concern in 2017, suggesting that Beijing might pressure the EU into revoking the visa-free privilege it granted Taiwan based on the argument that a large number of Taiwanese telecommunication fraud suspects have been arrested in Europe in recent years.

Since 2016, more than 500 Taiwanese have been arrested in European countries on fraud charges, including in Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Spain and Poland, among others.

Hsu Mien-sheng (徐勉生), a former head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' European Affairs Department, raised the concern in an op-ed published in July 2017 by the Chinese-language United Daily News.

Asked to comment on Hsu' concern, Anna Kao (高安), the current head of the department, said Tuesday the EU's decision to grant Taiwanese passport holders visa free entry since 2011 underwent a comprehensive legislative procedure after evaluating Taiwan's performance in different categories: the risk for illegal immigrants, public security and bilateral relations.

Kao said the arrest of Taiwanese fraudsters and EU considerations of whether to grant other countries visa-free entry "are completely unrelated."

However, she also reminded Taiwan nationals not to engage in illicit activities overseas to safeguard the nation's international image.

(By Joseph Yeh)