Professor Anton Caragea on future of Taiwan and Romania relationship
TAIWAN: AN OPPORTUNITY THAT MUST NOT BE WASTED! interview by Daniel Negut
appreciates Professor Anton Caragea, PhD, expert in international relations.
I see you full of optimism, Mr. Professor Caragea! What are your reasons?
Answer: The final part of 2008 has brought many unexpected reasons for optimism. This year preparations for parliamentary elections that will be held this month have shown that – after some tragic examples- the political class from Romania began to understand the importance of foreign policy factor in the life of Romania.
As a result of our efforts, the parties have already entered in a process to outline a National Pact for Romanian foreign policy. We hope that this pact, once agreed by all parties will not be an object of dispute, but – on the contrary – an object for unifying Romania’s efforts . We will no longer have a foreign policy based on interests or abilities of a minister or another, but a real foreign policy of Romania. Another reason for optimism I was given by the trip taken in the Far East, whose main point was the visit to Taiwan. I saw in the Far East an economic vitality, a political energy and a desire to make the XXI century, a century of Asia, that really impressed me. If Asian countries will continue to prepare their development with the same seriousness, we can be optimistic.
The future world economy, even shadowed by the current crisis will be a good one. Equally important is the signal that I received during my visit to Taiwan: Romania matters for Taiwan!
Could it be so?
A: Yes! Everybody is excited to cooperate with Bucharest. It seems that watched from the other side of the world, Romania looks more optimistic: a country with 22 million inhabitants, with a remarkable strategic position, with opening to the Danube and the Black Sea, with an important economic growth, supported by a class of managers energetic and eager to win! Thus, Romania appears from Taipei as a country of opportunities, treated with a lot of confidence…
From Taipei, for example, it is much easier to be proud that you are Romanian, than in Bucharest!
And what is – or should be – our Romanian authority’s response?
Of course this confidence, this willingness for investment and economic and political cooperation must be met with concrete actions from Bucharest government. Calendar of such concrete actions is very clear: to develop closer political relations with Taiwan, we should open as soon as possible a Diplomatic Office in Taipei and ask Taiwan to open a similar office in Bucharest.
Taiwan is ready to waive the visa system for Romania, if and Romania will be ready to facilitate visas for Taiwanese businessmen. For now, the situation is serious: Romanian business people should take visa from Athens or Budapest, which means additional difficulties and expenses absolutely meaningless. Similarly, Taiwanese businessmen, that have invested one billion U.S. dollars in the Romanian economy, need to go to Bangkok – In Thailand – or Tokyo, Japan, to obtain a Romanian visa! Disappointing and humiliating. This situation must cease immediately … Diplomatic relations, civilized relations on visa issues and consular relations should be established as soon as possible in order to facilitate economic ties!
Could this be a chance for Romania?
We are going now through a period of crisis and we need foreign investment and economic support. Taiwan has a national reserve of over 290 billion dollars and believes that investment can be about 10 billion dollars in the next years in our economy, so we must look carefully at what is happening there. Now there is a real struggle for foreign investors and Romania can win on the direction of Taiwan and the Far East, this ‘fight’ by political and diplomatic cooperation. While black clouds gather over Eastern Europe, Romania has a chance to escape the crisis and have a solid partner in Taiwan in the Far East area.
We must understand that Taiwan is a political and economic opportunity for Romania, which should not be lost!
In theory, this is great! But what is the situation, in practical terms?
Basically, in the discussions held in Taipei with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew L.Y .Hsia we came quickly to a common understanding that Romania and Taiwan may be the point of entry, for each other, in the European and Asian markets! This opportunity does not come too often and Taiwan gives us a generously offer.
The rest of the Far East is a new destination, but also extremely important for our diplomacy: from now on, Bucharest is opened to a new direction! On his visits in South Korea and Japan, the President of Romania, gave a clear signal: the Far East has ceased to be too distant for Romania. For now, economic and political relations will be developed within this space.
For example, Singapore has to be next to Taiwan, another outpost of our foreign policy. Key point economically developed and with powerful interests in Romania, we have in Singapore as well in Taiwan a destination for political and economic ties. Taiwan and Singapore must be the priority of Romania in the next decade in the Far East region.
I also enjoyed that, after two years of discussions regarding the need for Romania’s involvement in the Middle East, we have already done the first concrete step. In just two months after we asked that Syria be included in the tour of Romanian diplomacy, we are registering a new success: President Traian Băsescu understand our reasons to visit Damascus and made the visit. It’s a beautiful victory of Romania!
For now, we must continue to deepen relations in this area and to go to the Far East. ‘Ex Oriente lux – light comes from the East – said the chronicles of the middle Ages and now we rediscover the wisdom of this old word!
The major goals of our economic and political interests on the direction of the West have already been achieved, and now we must move on in achieving national interest in other quarters of the world.
Next decade we must focus on the Far East. We are living in a world of rapid transportation and, communication, mobility of capital and Romania should be a ‘hub’ for the investment of the Asian tiger and a privileged zone in Eastern Europe.
So, let’s be optimistic?
We have enormous advantages: 22 million inhabitants, the second country as area and population of the region, with political stability, openness to strategic avenues as Danube and the Black Sea, with developed economy, an increase in the average class numbers, participation in NATO and the European Union and do not forget that we are – in total
– 31 million Romanian, relating to Bucharest and waiting out economic and political leadership from here.
This is the second major challenge to us in the next decade: to become a cultural and economic unit of 31 million Romanians. Optimistic conclusion: privileged links with the Far East, with Taiwan – in particular – and a strategy for 31 million Romanian, not just for 22 million. Future sounds good! (interviu de Daniel Negut, preluat din revista Business Adviser, varianta print, nr. 33)