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Taiwan Reaches Out to Balkans

February 14, 1999

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Taiwan, which scored a diplomatic coup when it established ties with Macedonia, hopes to upgrade relations with other Balkan countries, a local newspaper reported Sunday.

Several countries in the Balkan Peninsula, including the former Yugloslav republic of Slovenia, have expressed an interest in improving ties with Taiwan, the Liberty Times said.

Taiwan wants to use its new relations with Macedonia to demonstrate how recognizing the island can pay off for other financially strapped countries in the Balkans, the paper said.

In exchange for diplomatic recognition, Taiwan reportedly offered to provide Macedonia more than $300 million in aid over four years, along with technical assistance, loans and business contracts worth millions more.

Macedonian sources have said ties with Taiwan would bring in up to $1.6 billion in aid and investment.

Macedonia and the Vatican are the only countries in Europe that recognize Taiwan, which China claims as a breakaway province.

China severed ties with Macedonia after its decision to recognize Taiwan last month, and reports say Beijing’s anger at the move could delay gradual steps to restore regular dialogue between Taipei and Beijing.

Most of Taiwan’s 28 allies are poor countries in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean that are supported with aid and investment from Taipei.

Update hourly