TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Greek musician who is a naturalized Taiwanese citizen has created a petition calling on the Hellenic Parliament to back Taiwan's inclusion in the World Health Organization (WHO) as the Wuhan coronavirus rages across the globe.
Vassilis Tsotsolis (周瓦絲里), a 51-year-old musician and music teacher, told Taiwan News that he created the petition because of the fact that Taiwan is excluded from the WHO; the coronavirus started in China, but the country does not allow Taiwan to participate, and Greeks in Taiwan do not have any representative office to speak with or receive support from.
Tsotsolis, who obtained his citizenship without having to relinquish his Greek passport due to his contribution to baroque music in Taiwan, has been interviewed by both Greek and Taiwanese media about the new petition. He said that he hopes that the petition, media coverage, and support from members of Parliament can help convince the Greek government to establish closer ties with Taiwan.
The petition, which was uploaded to AVAAZ on Feb. 14, starts off with the title "Greek people support Taiwan's participation and precious contribution to the WHO." Below it is a sign in Greek that reads "A Greek [says] health is the right of all people."
The document seeks to raise the government's awareness of Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO and how this impacts the tackling of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Tsotsolis pointed out that although Taiwan is on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus, it has been excluded from the World Health Assembly and WHO meetings since 2017 due to pressure from Communist China.
Tsotsolis wrote that Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO poses a "threat to the epidemic prevention and everyone's health rights." He then calls on Greece to show solidarity with every country in the world, including Taiwan.
Tsotsolis pointed out that Taiwan's health system is managed by a completely separate authority than China. He mentioned the fact that Taiwan has one of the most advanced and efficient health care systems in the world and has "valuable experience in the battle against global diseases and particularly SARS and H1N1."
The petition's author then says that the WHO's "incorrect treatment" by labeling it as part of China is both "unjust and highly impractical." Tsotsolis reminded readers that "Taiwan has never been part of the PRC."
Citing the WHO's own constitution, which describes health as "one of the fundamental rights of every human being," Tsotsolis says that this also a core value of Greek civilization. Tsotsolis then asserts that the health rights of 23 million Taiwanese and foreigners who reside in the country should "not be ignored and abandoned by the WHO and should not be left to the mercy of any other country."
Tsotsolis then lamented that because there is "not yet" a Greek representative office in Taiwan, many Greek citizens in the country feel isolated and cannot indefinitely rely on consulates situated abroad. He then issued the following three demands:
"1. Full support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHO and its institutions.
2. The need to provide to Greek citizens living in Taiwan all possible relevant instructions concerning the coronavirus and any help they may need in the near future.
3. In the long term, the establishment of a much needed Greek representation office in Taiwan."
In the week and a half since the petition was launched, it has garnered 2,303 signatures. Those wishing to sign the petition can do so on its AVAAZ page.