On the morning of February 7, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation from the Finland-Taiwan parliamentary friendship group. In remarks, President Tsai thanked the group for proactively strengthening bilateral relations between Taiwan and Finland and for their long-term support of Taiwan's international participation. The president also said that we hope that Taiwan and Finland can take further steps to deepen exchanges, share experience, and strengthen democratic resilience so as to generate even greater well-being for our peoples.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
Welcome to the Presidential Office. This is the first delegation from the Parliament of Finland to visit Taiwan since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your visit is highly meaningful for the deepening of bilateral relations between Taiwan and Finland.
Over the past few years, the international community has been paying greater attention to Taiwan-related issues. The Finland-Taiwan parliamentary friendship group is one such example. Comprising 27 members from various political parties, the group has the strongest lineup of all friendship groups in the Finnish Parliament.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our friends in the Taiwan friendship group for proactively strengthening bilateral relations between Taiwan and Finland and for their long-term support of Taiwan's international participation. Chair Mikko Kärnä has voiced support for Taiwan numerous times on social media. We truly value such friendship.
In recent years, there has been significant progress in exchanges between Taiwan and Finland in multiple domains. In 2021, bilateral trade grew by a remarkable 30 percent as compared to the previous year.
Just over a month ago, we held the 7th Taiwan-Finland Trade Talk here in Taipei. The two sides engaged in highly productive discussions on such areas as green energy transition, energy, and digitalization. I believe that, moving forward, industrial cooperation between Taiwan and Finland will grow even stronger.
At this moment, faced with the continuing expansion of authoritarianism, democratic allies around the world must work together more closely than ever to jointly safeguard regional prosperity, supply chain security, and the values of freedom and democracy.
We hope that Taiwan and Finland can take further steps to deepen exchanges, share experience, and strengthen democratic resilience so as to generate even greater well-being for our peoples. In closing, I welcome you all once again and thank you for your support of Taiwan. I wish you a pleasant and successful visit.
Chair Kärnä then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows:
Your Excellency, Madam President, on behalf of the Finnish-Taiwanese parliamentary friendship group, I thank you and the government of Taiwan for the kind invitation to visit your country. It is a great pleasure for us to be here in Taipei and meet with you in person. We've already had a couple of interesting and very productive days, and we're looking forward to the rest of our schedule. This trip offers us an excellent opportunity to learn more about your great country, Taiwan's economic strengths, and the security situation in [the] Taiwan Strait.
We also want to build more ties to strengthen Finland-Taiwan relations, and especially economic ties between our nations. Taiwan is a significant economic actor here in East Asia. Finland is keen on expanding our trade and economic relations with Taiwan. Taiwan's expertise, especially in semiconductors, is highly appreciated. We also welcome cooperation in the fields of science, technology, research, education, and culture.
Madam President, like the European Union, Finland supports Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations. This is particularly important in issues related to health, security, and the well-being of the people in Taiwan and in the entire region. In dark times, friendship is especially valuable. I want to express once more my gratitude to Taiwan, which delivered us face masks during the COVID pandemic. In a world of geopolitics, great power rivalry, and war in Ukraine, it is of utmost importance to rely on stable values of peace and democracy, which guide our work and cooperation.
Finland and Taiwan share common values of freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and equality. We have witnessed how big neighbors don't always respect these values. Our commitment to common values is strong; our commitment to our cooperation is strong; and our commitment to security is strong.
While the security environment is becoming more dangerous, the bonds of friendship are also becoming stronger. Finland will be joining NATO very soon. The United States has very clearly voiced steadfast support to Taiwan; where there was strategic ambiguity before, there is now strategic clarity.
Finland and Taiwan, small but smart partners, can contribute a lot to international development and to the welfare of our people and global community. Where there are those in the world who break, there are us who build. We must together condemn China's aggression towards Taiwan. Taiwan has the right to decide for its own future.
The visiting delegation also included Tom Packalén, member of the Finland-Taiwan parliamentary friendship group, and Representative of the Finland Trade Center Lauri Raunio.