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Lithuanian Speaker Čmilytė-Nielsen addresses Taiwan's Legislature

10/24/2023 02:13 PM
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Speaker of Lithuanian parliament Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen gives a speech at the Legislature of Taiwan Tuesday. CNA Oct. 24, 2023
Speaker of Lithuanian parliament Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen gives a speech at the Legislature of Taiwan Tuesday. CNA Oct. 24, 2023

Taipei, Oct. 24 (CNA) The visiting speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, addressed Taiwan's Legislature on Tuesday, highlighting the shared values that brought both sides closer and stressing the importance of continued economic cooperation.

"Both Taiwan and Lithuania are guided by the belief that people are the creators of their own destiny," Čmilytė-Nielsen said in her speech titled "Beyond Borders: Vitality of Democratic Cooperation."

Taiwan and Lithuania "share a goal of preserving the principles of democracy," which serves as "our common ground" and a foundation for a relationship that "transcends geographical distances," said Čmilytė-Nielsen, who is the first sitting Lithuanian speaker to visit Taiwan.

"I truly believe that shared values can bridge the largest geographical distances and bring people together," she said, noting that fostering strong relations between democracies is more important than ever in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Describing cooperation between Taiwan and Lithuania as "a litmus test" to other democratic nations, Čmilytė-Nielsen underscored the importance for Taiwan and Lithuania to continue developing their economic ties.

According to Čmilytė-Nielsen, several European Union nations are watching closely whether cooperation between Taiwan and Lithuania will yield specific economic and investment results.

"Together, we must show that collaboration between democracies is both right and mutually beneficial," she said, noting that "partnership between Lithuania and Taiwan must become a success story."

Touting the Baltic nation's advanced laser manufacturing, life sciences, cybersecurity, and financial technology sectors, Čmilytė-Nielsen said Lithuania would be an excellent partner for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific stakeholders seeking to expand their high-tech business in Europe.

In July 2021, Taiwan and Lithuania announced their plans to open a reciprocal representative office in each other's capital in a bid to strengthen bilateral relations.

Since then, both sides have worked together to tackle various global challenges, Čmilytė-Nielsen said, adding that later that same year, Lithuania donated a total of 25,5900 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan.

Most recently, she went on, both sides have jointly funded the reconstruction of a kindergarten in Ukraine that was badly damaged by the protracted war in the country.

She was referring to the Rūta kindergarten in Irpin, a town about 20 kilometers northwest of Kyiv.

According to Taiwan's foreign ministry, Taiwan provided approximately US$1.3 million for the procurement of furniture and equipment as well as the construction of gardens and playground facilities in the kindergarten.

Despite warmer ties with Taiwan, Lithuania has come under heavy political and economic pressure from China following a decision to allow Taiwan's representative office in Vilnius, which opened on Nov. 18, 2021, to include the word "Taiwanese" in its name.

Taiwan typically names its overseas representative offices "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office" or "Taipei Representative Office," in keeping with the host countries' preference to avoid any references that imply Taiwan is a separate country from China.

In the aftermath of the move, China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and expelled Vilnius' envoy in Beijing.

It also suspended certain Lithuanian imports, which eventually led the European Union to file a complaint at the World Trade Organization.

On Tuesday, Čmilytė-Nielsen, the first speaker from a Baltic nation to deliver a speech at Taiwan's Legislature, also received a medal of honor for parliamentary diplomacy from her Taiwanese counterpart You Si-kun (游錫堃) in recognition of her "tremendous contributions to supporting Taiwan."

She arrived in Taiwan on Sunday with Lithuanian Vice Minister of Finance Vaida Markevičienė and a delegation of business representatives for a four-day visit. The speaker will travel to Japan after wrapping up her trip to Taipei on Wednesday.

(By Teng Pei-ju)


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