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MOFA urged to probe Azerbaijan visa snub of visiting local professor

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An opposition lawmaker yesterday called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to get to the bottom of the reason for Azerbaijan's recent denial of a visa application made by Taiwanese professor Lin Jaung-geng (林昭庚).

Lin, a renowned professor of acupuncture, was invited by UNESCO to attend a session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, held from Dec. 2 to Dec. 8, as a representative of Taiwan.

Lin could have become the first Taiwanese to attend an event organized by UNESCO since Taiwan lost its U.N. seat in 1971. However, he was unable to do so because the event's host country Azerbaijan denied granting him a visa without giving a clear reason, according to Lin.

During a legislative session in Taipei yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) asked MOFA to probe the case to see if mainland Chinese pressure was the main reason for the Southwestern Asian nation to deny Lin's visit.

In response, Winston Hu (胡正浩), deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of West Asian and African Affairs, said according to his understanding, the decision made by the country itself and has nothing to do with China.

This is not the first time Azerbaijan authorities made such unfriendly move against Taiwanese, the DPP lawmaker said.

A Taiwanese tour group was also denied entry to the country last year even though it had already arrived at an international airport in Baku, he noted.

Tsai further pointed out that other than Azerbaijan, another three countries, namely Venezuela, Pakistan and Bolivia, have also regularly denied visa-applications made by Taiwanese nationals.

Asked to comment, Florencia Hsieh (謝妙宏), deputy director-general of MOFA's Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, told The China Post that these countries mentioned by Tsai are all led by left-wing leaders.

These leaders all hold a pro-Beijing stance, which could explain why they sometimes reject Taiwanese nationals' visa-applications, she said.

But she stressed that MOFA will continue to negotiate with these countries for the benefit of Taiwanese travelers.

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