Members of Estonian govt not meeting with Taiwanese formin

  • 2023-11-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Members of the government will not meet with the Taiwanese foreign minister visiting Estonia next week, however, chairman of the Riigikogu foreign affairs committee Marko Mihkelson from the Reform Party, and foreign affairs committee member Urmas Reinsalu from Isamaa, will participate in the same event as the guest, Postimees reports.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu will be in Estonia on Wednesday, Nov. 8, and participate in a roundtable discussion organized by the International Center for Defence and Security in Tallinn.

"Wu is not visiting Estonia at the invitation of the republic's government or foreign minister and, as a result of the one-China policy, will not meet with any members of the government," Mihkel Tamm, head of public relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.

Estonia has for decades followed the one-China policy, and while MPs may meet with official representatives from Taiwan and Tibet, government members and the president avoid such meetings at least publicly. In international relations, government members are considered the official representatives of the state, but meetings by MPs are not taken as seriously by official China. However, the Chinese embassy has issued condemnatory statements following such meetings.

According to former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, such a policy does not mean that Estonia should not decide whom it is sensible to meet and invite.

"I personally would see no problem with government-level meetings with Taiwan's foreign minister. Perhaps it is time for Estonia to reassess its relations with Taiwan in the context of changing global relations," Reinsalu said.

Reinsalu, who left the position of foreign minister after a change in government half a year ago, does not rule out that he might have met with Taiwan's foreign minister if he were still in office.

"I would definitely seriously consider it," he said.

Reinsalu added that it was time for Estonia to establish closer economic relations with Taiwan.

"Estonia is one of the few Nordic and Baltic countries without a Taiwanese economic representation," he said.

In relation to the damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline and communication cables running along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, the Office of the Prosecutor's General wishes to investigate the Hong Kong-flagged vessel Newnew Polar Bear, which is likely related to the damage, in cooperation with Chinese authorities.

Postimees inquired whether the visit of the Taiwanese foreign minister to Estonia might affect China's willingness to cooperate with Estonian investigators. Reinsalu said these two issues should not be linked.

"If the Chinese provide us with information, it would be done based on international maritime law, I suppose," Reinsalu said.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas from the Reform Party also expressed the opinion that the visit of the Taiwanese minister should not affect the investigation.

"I do not believe that it will in any way affect our communication with China," Kallas said.

"Estonia has followed the one-China policy for decades and ministers have not met with official representatives from Taiwan or Tibet."

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu will participate in a seminar organized by the International Center for Defense and Security in Tallinn on Nov. 8, where he will deliver a speech and participate in a panel discussion.