At 9:00 a.m. local time on June 28 (9:00 p.m., June 28, Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen arrived at Paraguay's Lopez Presidential Palace to meet with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes. President Tsai was greeted upon arrival by Commander of the Paraguayan Armed Forces Luis Gonzaga Garcete Espinola and Paraguay's Director General of Protocol Genaro Pappalardo, who accompanied her as she was welcomed with military honors. President Cartes welcomed President Tsai at the entrance to the Lopez Presidential Palace, where they shook hands before proceeding to President Cartes' office for their meeting.
After the meeting, President Tsai proceeded to the Independence Hall at the Lopez Presidential Palace to receive the Marshal Francisco Solano Lopez Honor Medal.
President Tsai delivered remarks after receiving the medal, thanking President Cartes for the invitation to visit Paraguay, and added that it was an honor to be able to visit Paraguay on her very first overseas trip as president of the Republic of China.
President Tsai stated that among Taiwan's diplomatic allies, Paraguay is one of those with which Taiwan has the deepest ties of friendship and the most frequent cooperation. The president noted that she had exchanged views with President Cartes during his visit to Taiwan this past May on bilateral interaction and exchanges of his concern. In the meeting between the two presidents that concluded just minutes before, she said, they were able to continue their discussion in further depth, and benefitted greatly from it.
President Tsai noted that the medal of honor presented to her by President Cartes was named after Marshal Francisco Solano Lopez, who put his life on the line in fighting for Paraguay, so the medal represents the highest honor. Its conferral upon her also shows the great importance that Paraguay attaches to its friendship with Taiwan, the president added, and she felt deeply honored.
President Tsai emphasized that Paraguay and Taiwan have strong ties in the area of economic and trade cooperation. Besides being committed to a set of shared values, the two countries have also had rather similar historical experiences. Since establishing official diplomatic relations in 1957, Taiwan and Paraguay have always maintained very close and friendly cooperative ties. In their respective transitions to democracy, the two countries pushed through constitutional reforms and experienced their handovers of ruling power between political parties at very nearly the same times, and in each country's case the results met with wide international acclaim. These similar historical experiences have made the bilateral friendship all the more valuable.
President Tsai also mentioned that Paraguay and Taiwan have very complementary industrial structures, so further deepening of bilateral economic and trade cooperation is one of the most important tasks facing the bilateral relationship. Paraguay is a founding member of Mercosur and has abundant natural resources, a large hinterland, and a young, high-quality labor force. Taiwan, meanwhile, has mature technologies and a lot of development experience. The president expressed confidence that the two countries can combine the power of the public and private sectors as they work together to become springboards for each other into the Mercosur and Asian markets. In this manner, the two can engage in cooperation with an eye to seeking mutual benefits and offering mutual assistance.
Commenting on Paraguay's resolute support for Taiwan, President Tsai stated that since President Cartes took office Paraguay has already spoken up for Taiwan three years in a row at the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, and has also supported Taiwan in other international bodies and forums. Paraguay is a loyal and steadfast friend to the Republic of China, and for that we are eternally grateful, said the president.
After the remarks, and with President Tsai and President Cartes as witness, ROC Minister of Foreign Affairs David T. Lee (李大維) and Paraguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs Eladio Loizaga signed an Air Transport Agreement between the two countries. President Tsai and President Cartes then signed a joint declaration affirming the further deepening of bilateral cooperation.
President Tsai then delivered further remarks, stating that on May 20, the day of her inauguration, President Cartes was the first head of state from a diplomatic ally that she met with, and she attended the inauguration ceremony for the Panama Canal Expansion two days earlier together with President Cartes.
President Tsai said she has felt deeply honored during this visit by the host country's outstanding hospitality, which has been at the same time highly decorous and enthusiastic. The warm and friendly nature of the Paraguayan people have made a deep impression on her, said the president, who expressed confidence that face-to-face interactions over the past few days between delegation members and Paraguayan government and business leaders will promote better mutual understanding and will be a boost to further development of cooperative relations.
President Tsai stated that during her meeting earlier in the day with President Cartes, the two leaders engaged in a broad-ranging exchange of views regarding international events and various issues of shared concern. At the same time, when she accepted the Marshal Francisco Solano Lopez Honor Medal a bit earlier on behalf of the government and people of the Republic of China, it showed the depth of the friendship between the two countries.
President Tsai also mentioned that the signing of a new Air Transport Agreement between the two countries shows that the content of the agreement has been revised to keep pace with the changing times. There is every reason to believe the new agreement has laid a robust foundation for future air transport cooperation, and will spur stronger economic and trade ties and investment cooperation. Meanwhile, she said, the joint declaration just signed reiterates that the two countries will continue to work together to develop bilateral economic, trade, and investment ties. It also expresses bilateral consensus to advance educational and technical cooperation, and to act as strategic partners in making inroads into markets in the Mercosur region and Asia.
The president stressed that the Republic of China and Paraguay will conduct bilateral relations over the coming 60 years by means of seeking mutual benefits and offering mutual assistance. Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Republic of China and Paraguay have a very strong diplomatic friendship, and will continue striving to build even stronger bilateral cooperative relations, she noted.