On the morning of February 6, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation from the Switzerland-Taiwan parliamentary friendship group of the Swiss Federal Assembly. In remarks, President Tsai said that in addition to being like-minded partners that share the values of freedom and democracy, Taiwan and Switzerland are trade-oriented nations with industries that possess complementary strengths. The president expressed hope that Taiwan and Switzerland can continue to deepen economic ties and jointly safeguard supply chains underpinned by democratic values. She also said that she looks forward to strengthening our cooperation across the board and continuing to advance our bilateral relations to contribute further to democratic resilience around the world.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
I welcome you all to Taiwan. Your delegation comprises members of the Swiss National Council from different political parties, parliamentary committees, and linguistic regions. This symbolizes the rich diversity of Switzerland's society and culture. You are also dear friends of Taiwan. I am very grateful for your longstanding friendship with Taiwan and for the importance that you place on our country.
In recent years, our bilateral relations have grown closer. Taiwan-related issues have also garnered more attention in the Swiss parliament. National Council Members Fabian Molina, Nicolas Walder, and Mustafa Atici have submitted important Taiwan-friendly motions in the Swiss parliament. You have all used interpellations to call for stronger bilateral exchanges and cooperation. And you have also signed joint letters supporting Taiwan's international participation.
I would like to once again thank you all for your staunch support for Taiwan. Taiwan and Switzerland are like-minded partners that share the values of freedom and democracy. We are also both trade-oriented nations and the industries we have developed possess complementary strengths.
Going forward, we hope to continue deepening our economic and trade ties and jointly maintain the security of supply chains underpinned by democratic values. We also look forward to strengthening cooperation in all other fields, including joint efforts to combat disinformation and bolster cybersecurity.
As Taiwan stands on the frontline of the defense of democracy, we will work resolutely to maintain regional peace and stability. Faced with the sustained expansion of authoritarianism, we also call on all democratic allies to continue to deepen partnerships and work together to safeguard our way of life.
In closing, I look forward to you all gaining a deeper understanding of Taiwan through this visit. Let us continue to advance bilateral relations between Taiwan and Switzerland and contribute further to democratic resilience around the world. I wish you all a pleasant and fruitful trip.
Co-president of the Switzerland-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group of the Swiss Federal Assembly Molina then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows:
The terrible war against Ukraine is a turning point. Not only but especially for Europe, for the war has shown us how fragile a rules-based multilateral world order is and how thin the thread is on which peace hangs.
The Russian war of aggression has major implications on the humanitarian situation in Europe and for the global economy. And it is a call to all peoples and their leaders to strengthen dialogue, to seek cooperation, to promote world peace, democracy, and multilateralism. Authoritarianism and war must not prevail.
It is in this context that the trip of our delegation consisting of Nicolas Walder, Yves Nidegger, Mustafa Atici, and Léonore Porchet takes place. On behalf of the Switzerland-Taiwan parliamentary friendship group, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the invitation, the hospitality, and the dialogue, which is more important today than ever. It is a great honor for us to be here.
Switzerland and Taiwan have a lot in common. Not only are both vibrant democracies that share the values of the rule of law and human rights, but we also both have high and beautiful mountains and deeply rooted traditions. At the same time, both Switzerland and Taiwan are dependent on immigration, research, and technological innovation, as neither of us has any significant raw materials. And our two democracies have made much of these conditions with a great deal of inventiveness and pragmatism. It is in the spirit of this inventiveness and pragmatism that we should improve and deepen relations in our mutual interest.
In the spirit of Swiss foreign policy that is capable of action and forward-looking, the Swiss National Council has instructed our government in 2021 to examine how Switzerland's existing relations with Taiwan can be gradually deepened in the interest of business, politics, science, and culture. We want to follow up on this during our visit.
Switzerland has a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2023 and 2024. Our country has assumed a special responsibility for world peace during these two years. It's also in that spirit that we are visiting Taiwan this week, it is absolutely essential that the existing differences and tensions between Taiwan and the PRC are resolved peacefully and through dialogue. Anything less would be unacceptable.
On behalf of the entire delegation, I would like to thank you once again very much Madam President for today's meeting and the fruitful discussions with the Taiwanese authorities. Friendship between peoples is the best recipe for a better future.
Co-president of the Switzerland-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group Walder then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows:
It is my pleasure to follow my colleague Fabian Molina in bringing another expression of our friendship and support to the Taiwanese people, who are waging a courageous and just struggle to be allowed to remain autonomous and democratic.
I would like also to express all my gratitude for your invitation today. It is a great honor, Madam President, to be here today and have the opportunity to address a few words to you in order to emphasize the friendship that links Switzerland and Taiwan.
I'm speaking today in the name of our parliamentary friendship group that I'm happy to co-chair. We are here a delegation of five members out of a parliamentary group that is one of the most successful, with more than 15 percent of all members of parliament participating. It shows how important is [sic] Taiwan to us.
The success of the group is also linked to the excellent and very appreciated collaboration we are having with your representatives in Bern. Dr. [David W.F.] Huang (???) of course but also Madam May Chou (???) who is accompanying us today, and all the team of the representation.
I'm as well speaking here as a representative of the French speaking minority in Switzerland, and I assure you that it's not every day [sic] simple to be part of a minority in a country dominated by Swiss Germans.
All jokes aside, minorities benefit in Switzerland [from] equal rights and respect, exactly like in Taiwan. In both our lands minorities can practice their language; they can live their cultural traditions, express their personalities and orientations without fear. When you belong to a minority, you particularly appreciate those rights.
Finally, I'm also speaking here as a citizen of Geneva, a town well known internationally for its role to promote peace, democracy, and human rights. Because if our friendship is based on our economic, academic, cultural, and scientific exchanges, it is also built – of course it has been said and you mentioned it, Madam President – on our shared values.
Values of freedom that respect human rights and values of free entrepreneurship that underpin the liberal democracy that we know and appreciate as much in Taiwan as in Switzerland. Shared values that today make Taiwan Switzerland's seventh largest economic partner in Asia. This is far from negligible, especially since there is a strong potential, it has been said, to increase our exchanges.
It is in this sense that our Parliamentary Assembly, as mentioned by Fabian Molina, requires from our government a report listing all the opportunities to develop the relation and exchanges between Taiwan and Switzerland.
Based on this report, we will insist that our government works concretely in the direction of strengthening our relations, for example, on establishing an economic partnership agreement with Taiwan, but also on using its influence among the international community to promote a closer inclusion of Taiwan in the international organizations such as the World Health Organization.
Today, in addition to ethical issues, the increasingly frontal questioning of international law by important actors like Russia and the People's Republic of China poses major threats of destabilizing the world.
In the face of such threats, it is our duty and in our strategic interest to draw closer to like-minded countries – those countries that share the values of democracy, freedom and justice, countries that are open to the world, to dialogue, to economic cooperation, and to cultural exchanges. Exactly like Taiwan.
That's why we can assure you, Madam President, Mr. Minister, that our friendship group will use all opportunities to recall the strong ties between Taiwan and Switzerland and to support your right to remain democratic.
Finally, let me again express all my gratitude for the invitation and the hospitality you are offering us this week. Long live Taiwan, Switzerland, and our friendship. Thank you very much.