Archive for June 16th, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Foreign Affairs: Solms meets Tsai

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Hermann Otto Solms (FDP), German Federal Parliament’s vice president, met with Taiwan’s opposition leader and DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Wednesday, during his visit to Taiwan as leader of a delegation of German parliamentarians. During their meeting at the DPP headquarers, Tsai restated her agenda of turning  Taiwan into a country without nuclear energy by 2025.

Solms gallantly kept to his party’s – brandnew – policy of being anti-nuclear-energy, too (and granted – he stated some points that would support his own assertion that it was in fact a long-established FDP goal to abandon nuclear energy – see the account of his talk further down). All parties in Germany’s federal parliament agreed that nuclear energy should be abandoned, he said.

A transitional source of energy – that, of course, used to be a wonderfully vague concept. The Fukushima disaster – if reasonably so, or for a classical German bout of angst – has made the concept much more concrete. In fact, Solms, as a member of Germany’s most business-friendly party, must have felt a bit foreign during his meeting with politically-“green” Tsai, in front of big anti-nuclear artwork.

Just a week earlier, they had discussed energy issues in Germany, Tsai said. Alternative energy sources in Germany had been the topic then, Germany’s hadn’t only been a political, but also an economic decision, and new energy industries would also create new job opportunities.

Tsai Ing-wen welcomes Hermann Otto Solms at DPP headquarters in Taipei

Tsai Ing-wen welcomes Hermann Otto Solms at DPP headquarters in Taipei - click on the picture above for video

Tsai has had some good international (not least German) photo opportunities so far this month, but she, too, looked somewhat uneasy at times during her welcome talk, and looking at the interpreter behind Solms, she appeared to be backing away from the dignified guest, as if she felt that he wasn’t quite decontaminated yet. Besides, she could have used a glass of water. When she criticized the KMT’s still pro-nuclear position, or rather, after that bit, too, had been interpreted into German, Solms seemed to grin uncontrollably, while the interpreter was extremely busy with taking notes of Tsai’s next lines.

He was leading a delegation of members of several political parties, Solms replied, but in Germany, there was an overarching consensus among them that the atomic age should come to an end. As early as during the 1980s, his party, the FDP’s, position had been that nuclear energy was only a transitional source of energy, which had to be abandoned once technological alternatives had been created. It had been a member of his party who, as a minister of economic affairs, had opened the way for alternative sources of energy co-servicing the German grid in 1990.

As seems to be a rule, it took Tsai a while to relax and to smile. She seemed to be particularly fond of Solms “invitation” to learn both from Germany’s mistakes and its progress on the path of abandoning nuclear energy *).

Some latent (or supposed by this blogger) nuclear fission aside, Solms and his party might well be called friends of Taiwan. In May 2002, the FDP members of federal parliament, Solms among them, asked the other political parties to pass a resolution by which relations with Taiwan would be shaped in a pragmatic way, and in a way which would value or honor Taiwan’s democratic constitution and practice.


*) Solm’s “invitation to learn” may appear to be somewhat haughty, but given the German political consensus on abandoning nuclear energy, and on reaching the objective by 2022 (rather than by 2025 as is the DPP’s goal), Taiwan could indeed think of Germany as its guinea pig, should Taipei embark on a similar policy after the 2012 presidential and legislative elections.



» The Issue of Transparency, March 29, 2011
» German Federal Parliament (Bundestag) website

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