Opening Remarks by Amb. Kuo for “Bulgaria/EU- Taiwan Relations- Promoting Democratic Resilience” Conference

Dr. Passy, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends from Bulgaria, Europe and Taiwan, on-line and on-site, good morning!

I am honored to give opening remarks at the 1st-ever international symposium in Sofia to talk about democratic resilience and the relationship between Taiwan, Bulgaria and the European Union. First of all, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, especially Dr. Passy and his team, for their relentless efforts to make this happen.  

The event today comes at a special and significant time. The Russian war in Ukraine has been going on for more than 2 years. The election of European Parliament will take place next month. The new Taiwanese government led by President-elect Dr. Lai Ching-te will be sworn-in on Monday, May 20th. As the international society delves into new situations and many democracies will soon have new governments, however, the threats from authoritarian regimes remain there, and even worse, they are aggravating. That’s why we need to keep focusing our attention to democratic resilience so that we can make ourselves stronger, together.

Many know Taiwan is a strong economy. Many may not know that Taiwan is not only the world’s 21st largest economy but also home to a complete semiconductor ecosystem, producing over half of the world’s semiconductors and plays a critical role in the global industrial value-chain. On the Bulgarian side, fast growth in the ICT, automobile, machinery manufacturing and related smart industries are creating jobs and driving the economy upwards. To my delight, bilateral trade volume between Taiwan and Bulgaria grew more than 2 times from 2019 to 2022. It is therefore obvious that Bulgaria and Taiwan should explore more cooperation opportunities to find industrial complementarities, while jointly strengthen our economic resilience based on our open, rules-based and anti-coercion markets.

Taiwan and Bulgaria are natural partners. They share the common values of democracy, human rights, freedom of speech and respect for international laws. Both are forces for good to the world, making impressive contributions in recent years, including donation of vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic, self-claimed reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change, as well as providing firm support for Ukraine against Russia’s illegal aggression.

Democracy represents the will of the people and is to the greatest benefits to the people. Despite many challenges from inside and outside, it is still the best political system. But democracy cannot be taken for granted. On the contrary, it has to be protected, enhanced and supported in solidarity. I believe the discussion on democratic resilience today will prove this idea.    

Last but not least, I would like to congratulate Bulgaria for successfully joining the Schengen Area. The institutionalized visa-free treatment of short-term travel between the Schengen Zone and Taiwan on each other’s side will surely help boost the relationship between Taiwan and Bulgaria. Thank you!