Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa announced the European Union country is preparing an exchange of representatives with Taiwan, a move that could worsen relations with China but was welcomed by Taipei on Tuesday.
“We are working on establishing … well, on exchanging representatives,” Jansa told an interview to India’s Doordarshan national television published on the government’s website.
He added the move would have come much earlier had he had the support in parliament and argued that the vast majority of EU member countries already have “some kind of representative offices” with Taiwan.
Beijing is very critical at any international support for Taiwan that might lend any sense of legitimacy to the island, which it considers part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize by force if necessary.
Lithuania’s decision last year to allow Taiwan to open a representative office under its own name infuriated Beijing, which downgraded diplomatic ties with the Baltic state in November.
Jansa criticised China’s policy on Taiwan saying “it’s difficult to listen to a capital with a one-party system lecturing about democracy and peace around the world” and added the current Covid-19 epidemic had shown how beneficial it would be if Taiwan were allowed to join the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“I think it would also benefit China to have a neighbouring country be a member of such an organisation, because we saw exactly in this pandemic situation that the virus doesn’t know any borders,” Jansa said in the interview published on the Slovenian government’s website.
Jansa’s comment was welcomed by Taiwan’s government.
“Prime Minister Jansa is a good friend of Taiwan and he had visited Taiwan multiple times before. Foreign ministry welcomes and sincerely appreciates his insightful comments on current major international issues,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry’s spokeswoman Joanne Ou said on Tuesday.
Slovenia, a former Yugoslav state that joined the EU in 2004, has been part of China’s “17 + 1” cooperation group created in 2012 to promote Chinese investments in Central and Eastern European countries.