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Plan to open office in Estonia still under discussion: MOFA

11/04/2023 12:02 PM
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Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna. Photo taken from facebook.com/margus.tsahkna
Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna. Photo taken from facebook.com/margus.tsahkna

Taipei, Nov. 4 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Saturday that talks regarding Taiwan opening a representative office in Estonia were still taking place and that a consensus between the two sides had not yet been reached.

In a statement, MOFA expressed gratitude to the Estonian government for its willingness to talk with Taiwan about potentially opening a representative office and said that the ministry was open to discussing the matter further.

MOFA said Taiwan and Estonia are aware that the establishment of a representative office would help boost bilateral exchanges.

Taiwan and Estonia are like-minded partners and have shared democratic values, MOFA said.

In May, Estonia, for the first time, called for Taiwan to be included in the World Health Organization (WHO) during the third day of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, MOFA said, adding that the two are developing a solid relationship.

In her address during the 76th WHA, the WHO's annual decision-making forum, Estonian Minister of Health Riina Sikkut said her country believed the organization should "facilitate inclusion and meaningful participation of all partners, including Taiwan, and this would benefit global health."

MOFA said the ministry will continue to strengthen ties and push for exchanges with Estonia and other like-minded countries.

The MOFA statement came after ERR News, the English language service of Estonian Public Broadcasting, reported Friday that the Estonian government had agreed to Taiwan opening an economic or cultural representative office in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, using the name "Taipei."

The report said that Taiwan's economic and cultural offices are often set up under the name of Taipei, the capital city, instead of Taiwan.

"Just like many other European Union countries, Estonia is ready to accept the establishment of a non-diplomatic economic or cultural representation of Taipei in order to promote such relations," Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna was cited by the ERR News report as saying after a regular review of his government's policy related to China.

"At the same time, we consider it important to boost relations with Taiwan in the fields of the economy, education, culture, relations between civil society organizations and other such areas," Tsahkna said.

However, Tsahkna emphasized Estonia does not recognize Taiwan as a country, the report said.

"We will not develop political relations with Taiwan within the framework of the One China policy," Tsahkna said in the report.

The Estonian official said his country supports Taiwan's participation in international affairs such as global efforts to combat pandemics and Taipei's participation in the WHO.

"Reinvigorating relations with Taiwan does not contradict the One China policy," Tsahkna said.

Tsahkna said Estonia wants its China policy to be in step with that of the European Union and that it wants to develop cooperation with like-minded partners.

"The more united we are on China, the better for all democratic countries," he said.

The Republic of China (Taiwan's formal name) left the WHO in 1972 following a decision by the United Nations to recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the only "legitimate representative of China."

Since then, Taiwan has been unable to attend the WHA even as an observer, except from 2009 to 2016, when cross-Taiwan Strait relations were warmer under Taiwan's then-Kuomintang government.

According to the ERR News report, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) will visit Estonia next week to attend a seminar at the International Centre for Defense and Security in Tallinn.

(By Kuo Wu-huan, Chen Cheng-chien and Frances Huang)

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