Washington, 31 January 1999
During the past week, there were two announcements that may
affect Taiwan's international relations positively.
The first one was the announcement that Taiwan and Macedonia
established diplomatic ties. Most people in Taiwan probably never
heard of Macedonia before: it is a small nation -- part of former
Yugoslavia -- which gained its independence over the past few years.
It is recognized by most countries in the world, including the
United States. It has a formal embassy in Washington, where it is
represented by a female ambassador and three other diplomats.
The Foreign Ministry in Taipei, Mr. Jason Hu, did show some fast
footwork in bringing the diplomatic ties about. They jumped at the
opportunity, when in November a new government came to power in
Macedonia's capital Skopje, made up of a non-communist coalition led
by Mr. Vasil Tupurkovski.
A funny situation arose, when Macedonia President Kiro Gligorov --
who is part of the defeated former communist party in Macedonia but
who retained his post -- announced that he didn't know about the
relations with Taiwan, and expressed his strong opposition against
If Taiwan can maintain the relations with Macedonia, this would
be a nice "foot-in-the-door" in Europe. But, it has to
work hard to build up relations with other nations too, like the
Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland), the Baltic
States, and the members of the European Union. This can only be done
if Taiwan presents itself as a new, democratic and independent
Taiwan, and drops the old and outdated "Republic of China"
The second announcement, was the one made by Indonesia's Foreign
Minister, Ali Alatas, who stated that he didn't exclude granting
independence to East Timor, the former Portuguese colony, which was
occupied by Indonesia in 1975, followed by more than 20 years of
brutal military repression.
Indeed, Taiwan should strongly support the granting of full
independence to East Timor, and help rebuild that nation. If Taiwan
does that, then chances are good that it can establish diplomatic
ties with this new nation. The independence movement in Taiwan
already has good ties with Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, the 1996 Nobel
Peace Prize Winner, who will certainly be a major leader in future
independent East Timor.