Taiwan: MEP Wins Visa-Free Status for Taiwan Visitors
Tannock, who has just returned from a fact-finding trip to Taiwan, heralded the decision as an "important" step forward in relations between Taiwan and the EU.
The Tory deputy, chairman of parliament’s Taiwan friendship group, said, "I recently have had substantial success in pushing for visa-free status for Taiwan residents travelling within the Schengen zone.
"Taiwan has close economic ties with EU members and shares the universal values of freedom of speech, free markets and human rights."
During his week-long visit, where Tannock led an eight-strong delegation of MEPs to Taiwan, he gave a keynote speech on the visa issue at the EU centre in Taipei, the country's capital.
In response to Tannock’s remarks, Chiu Jong-jen, director-general of the Taiwan foreign ministry’s department of European affairs, confirmed the government is in talks with the EU regarding the lifting of visa requirements for Republic of China (Taiwan) citizens.
"If everything goes smoothly, Taiwan will enjoy visa-free treatment in early to mid-2010," he said.
During his address, Tannock also reiterated support for Taiwan's bid to secure meaningful participation in UN specialised agencies, something China has traditionally tried to block.
The deputy spoke in favour of Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organisation's governing body last May, calling for the country to be accepted as a full member.
Commenting on the easing of tensions between Taipei and Beijing, Tannock praised Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou’s "flexible diplomacy" approach, describing it as a "pragmatic policy of making small, incremental cross-strait cooperative gains."
Tannock visited the country at the invitation of the Taiwan foreign ministry. It was his and the friendship group’s first visit to the island following its re-organisation in June.