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Prague mayor seeks to strengthen ties with Taipei

2019/03/28 19:27:46

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲, right) and Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib

Taipei, March 28 (CNA) Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib said Thursday he hopes to establish a sister city relationship with Taipei during his visit to Taiwan, as the two cities share a love of freedom, democracy and other values.

Led by Hrib, a delegation including Czech Pirate Party member Jakub Michalek, city councilors Michaela Krausova, Jaromir Beranek and four officials, met with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) that day.

In his remarks, Hrib recalled his visit to Taiwan 14 years ago and said he has vivid memories of the city, particularly the warmth and friendliness of the people of Taipei.

The 37-year-old said Taipei and Prague share a love of freedom and democracy and numerous values, expressing a desire to forge a deeper relationship between the two cities and future cooperation on such issues as sustainable development, smart cities and culture.

On being awarded an honorary citizenship by the Taipei mayor, Hrib invited Ko to visit Prague.

In return, Ko said he hopes Hrib will take advantage of his visit to travel in Taiwan, adding that he looks forward to future exchanges between Taiwan and the Czech Republic.

Following Hrib's speech, Ko and the delegation held a closed door meeting on digital medical care and innovative technologies.

Hrib is a member of the Czech Pirate Party, he has been mayor of Prague since the municipal election held in November last year and once described himself as a "fan of Taiwan."

The mayor found himself in the spotlight in January after he criticized a clause in the Partnership Agreement signed by Prague and Beijing during Chinese President Xi Jinping's (習近平) visit to the city in 2016, which requires Prague adhere to a "one China" policy and acknowledge Taiwan as an inalienable part of Chinese territory.

In a recent interview with CNA, Hrib said the inclusion of Article 3 was a "mistake" and that he will seek to negotiate with Beijing to remove the clause, adding that if that fails he would rather terminate the agreement between the two cities.

However, Czech President Milos Zeman is known for his pro-China views.

While Xi was in Prague to promote business ties, Zeman said he hoped the Czech Republic could become an unsinkable aircraft carrier of Chinese investment expansion in Europe.

Zeman was also the only leader from an EU member state to attend Beijing's grand military parade in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

With his call to abolish the one-China clause, Hrib has been seen by many as publicly challenging Zeman's pro-China stance.

However, Hrib argues that many of China's investment commitments have not been fulfilled, adding that he believes now is the time for the Czech Republic to rethink its policy toward China.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hrib is scheduled to attend the Smart City Summit & Expo at Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center from March 26-29.

(By Liang Pei-chi and Chung Yu-chen)
Enditem/AW