TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — German lawmaker and co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) Reinhard Butikofer was awarded the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s (MOFA) Grand Medal of Diplomacy for his contributions to expanding EU-Taiwan ties and support for the nation on the international stage at a ceremony on Thursday (Nov. 3).
Butikofer, who is currently leading an IPAC delegation in Taiwan, addressed the guests via videoconference due to contracting COVID-19.
“This democratic Taiwan, we in the European Parliament, want as a strong partner,” Butikofer said. Thus, an alliance of legislators from the five largest political groups in the European Parliament has been working together to achieve this goal, he said.
Butikofer said it is a “very great honor” to be awarded the Grand Medal of Diplomacy and that he was “extraordinarily grateful.” The German lawmaker said he accepts the medal on behalf of the countless people behind the scenes who are working to “build a strong global phalanx of democracies.”
“The challenges are growing for our work. So let us grow our common resolve,” he added.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Butikofer’s visit “demonstrates the strength of the relations between Taiwan and the EU and the bond that unites us with like-minded democracies across the globe.” MOFA has awarded the German lawmaker the Grand Medal of Honor in recognition of his efforts to “enhancing relations” between Taiwan and the EU, Wu said.
The foreign minister said Butikofer has consistently protested China’s authoritarian expansion and voiced support for Taiwan’s democracy. Butikofer has also called on the EU to review its “one China” policy and respect Taiwan’s rejection of the “one China two systems model,” Wu said.
In addition, Butikofer issued a statement to show solidarity with Lithuania when it faced economic coercion from China, declaring EU member states’ right to interact with Taiwan, the foreign minister said. When the Hong Kong National Security Law was implemented, the German lawmaker launched IPAC to direct attention to Beijing’s domestic oppression, he said.
IPAC has helped democracies respond to authoritarian China and “galvanized support for Taiwan’s international participation,” Wu said, adding that it also urged the EU to sign a bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan.
The foreign minister praised Butikofer as a “vocal defender of Taiwan’s freedom and democracy” and said he is confident EU-Taiwan ties will continue to flourish “based on solid foundations of shared values.”
The IPAC delegation has been in Taiwan meeting with top government officials, including President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), and European business representatives. The group is scheduled to depart on Friday (Nov. 4).