Tue, May 06, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Chen toasts his European guests

BY THE WAY At a dinner to kick off European Week, the president thanked those assembled for their support but noted that more would be appreciated

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian raises his glass to the guests at the opening ceremony for European Week, held at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, yesterday.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday expressed gratitude to European countries, which continue to show their confidence in Taiwan's efforts to fight severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). But at the same time, he also urged them to support the nation's efforts to join the World Health Organization (WHO).

"As a member of the international community, Taiwan has fulfilled its duty by immediately reporting the first known case of SARS to the WHO and tried its best to prevent the spread of the disease," Chen said last night in an address given at the opening ceremony for European Week, held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

"Unfortunately, Taiwan still faces more obstacles in its effort to join the WHO and this has created a serious loophole in the global epidemic control network," Chen said.

"I hope countries around the world can understand the importance of Taiwan's role in the international community and help our country join the WHO early," Chen said.

During his address, Chen assured the guests that Taiwan is adopting high standards for quarantine and epidemic measures and has achieved good preliminary results from what he called effective control measures.

Chen stressed that the gathering of representatives from European countries, heads of foreign companies, and ambassadors has opened the door of friendship between Taiwan and Europe.

"It is also an opportunity to display Taiwan's confidence to the international community while the country faces a severe challenge from SARS," Chen said.

He added that he was greatly appreciated those foreign guests, which had shown their firm friendship to the country.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) praised Europe as a place that valued democracy and freedom. By organizing activities such as this one "Taiwan can reach out to Europe and Europe can reach out to Taiwan," he said.

"It is my hope that this event will open new avenues for cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and Europe, and will encourage us to pursue freedom and prosperity together," Chien said.

A series of activities and exhibitions will be held till May 11 to highlight European Week.

Following the inauguration of the EU's representative office in Taipei in March, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has designated the first week of May as European Week, while the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei has fixed May 9 as European Day.

As part of the festivities, the Europosters Exhibition opens today at Taipei's Postal Museum and runs till May 11.

The museum describes the exhibition as a selection of European posters which retraces, visually and graphically, some of the important steps in the history of the European Union such as the introduction of the euro and the enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 countries.

Hugues Mignot, director of the Belgian Trade Association in Taipei, said the six-day exhibition marks the first time that these posters from Brussels have been exhibited in Asia.

At today's opening at the museum, a drama group from Tamkang University's German department will perform a shortened version of Richard Wagner's Lohengrin.

In addition, the Chinese Taipei Film Archive (CTFA) is organizing a European film festival , which will show 16 movies produced by EU countries. The festival runs from today through to May 10.

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