Thu, Nov 18, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Foundation honors Havel

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy paid tribute to former Czech president Vaclav Havel's friendship and support for Taiwan yesterday ahead of the democracy legend's scheduled arrival in Taipei tomorrow.

"Among all highly respected international leaders, Havel is the one who shows the most sympathy and support for Taiwan. He has a strong affection for Taiwan and has always wanted to visit the country, but has not been able to do so until now," director of the foundation Jou Yi-cheng (周奕成) said at a press conference to introduce Havel's planned activities in Taiwan.

"Beijing once invited Havel to visit China. Havel replied that he must first visit Tibet and Taiwan before he goes to China," Jou said.

Havel, who will stay in Taiwan until Wednesday, has an unusually light schedule compared with that of other visiting state leaders. Due to his fragile health and delicate lungs, each of Havel's public appearances will last no longer than one-and-a-half hours.

With only one public appearance scheduled for each day of his stay, Havel does not plan to hold any press conferences and will give only one speech, lasting 20 minutes, according to the democracy foundation, which organized Havel's itinerary here.

After flying in to Taipei tomorrow morning, Havel will not begin any public activities until Saturday.

"His secretary strictly requested that Havel must have a proper rest after the long journey from Europe to Taipei," Jou said.

Havel will visit the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines and the National Palace Museum on Saturday afternoon, and watch dramas at the National Taiwan University of Arts on Sunday.

On Monday, Havel will give a speech on globalization and the future of democracy at the National Central Library at 3pm. Chinese and English audio translations will be offered for the audience.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) will act as his commentators, the foundation said.

After the speech, Havel will give a special autograph session for the newly published Chinese translations of his books. The session will last 30 minutes.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will host a banquet for Havel at his official residence on Monday night.

"The president moved the banquet venue to his own house in order to thank Havel personally for his kindness toward the First Lady," Jou said.

First Lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) traveled to France and the Czech Republic during a European trip in 2001. During her stay in Prague, Havel once pushed Wu's wheelchair for her.

Havel will also host a conversation with Taiwan's top artists and writers at the democracy foundation next Tuesday.

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