By Joseph Yeh, The China Pos
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Panama’s outgoing ambassador to Taiwan has reaffirmed his country’s strong ties with the R.O.C., after reports that his government had yet to announce his successor raised concerns over the future of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Neal Kuo (郭篤為), a veteran Taiwanese journalist who has covered Central America for over 30 years, reported last week that Panama had yet to announce the successor of outgoing Ambassador Alfredo Martiz. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s ambassador to Panama Jose Maria Liu (劉德立) is scheduled to return to Taiwan next month to take up a position as a deputy minister, leaving his post without a replacement either. Kuo said in a Facebook post that this was a rather unusual state for bilateral diplomatic relations and could be considered a bad sign for the future of relations between the two. Asked to comment, Ambassador Alfredo Martiz told local media in Taipei that his government had yet to officially announce the name of his successor.
He added that he believed an announcement would happen very soon, but that it was not for someone in his position to disclose the new envoy’s identity. During a ceremony recognizing his contributions to two-way ties, he reiterated that the two countries’ diplomatic relations remained strong and stable, a situation that he did not envisage changing despite his upcoming departure. Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) on Thursday conferred the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon, one of the R.O.C.’s highest decorations, on the outgoing envoy in recognition of his contributions to promoting bilateral ties over his two-and-a-half-year tenure. Lee praised the ambassador’s contributions to enhancing Taiwan-Panama relations during his tenure. As a doctor himself, Lin said the ambassador also helped to promote closer bilateral medical cooperation during his tenure.
The ambassador was returning to Panama to take up a post as head of Caja de Seguro Social, the Social Insurance Fund, Lee said. In his speech, Alfredo Martiz expressed gratitude to all in Taiwan who had “reached out to us with friendly hands, making my stay and that of my family a cultural adventure that will forever remain in our hearts.” “The Republic of China (Taiwan) is and will be an irreplaceable ally for our country,” he said.