Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday departed on an 11-day trip to four European countries, including the Netherlands, which he said is an ideal role model for Taiwan.
Ko’s delegation aims to learn about urban renewal, public housing, sustainable transportation, the circular economy, home healthcare and city administration, the city government said.
The delegation is to visit the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Turkey, it said, adding that Ko is on Wednesday evening to make a 15 minute speech at the Members’ Salon of the European Parliament in Brussels and is to return to Taiwan on Feb. 6.
Ko is to be the first Taiwanese local government head to make a speech at the European Parliament, Taipei City Government spokesperson Liu Yi-ting (劉奕霆) said.
At the airport yesterday morning, Ko said he believes the Netherlands is a good role model for Taiwan, because “it is unlikely for us to become like Singapore since former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) led Taiwan on to the road to democracy.”
“We cannot turn back anymore and probably can only develop toward the democracy and freedom in western Europe and North America,” he said.
While the US has a capitalist democracy, some western and northern European nations have more socialist democracies, Ko said, adding that he thinks social democracy is more suitable for Taiwan’s long-term development, leading him to desire a visit to the Netherlands.
“Taiwan has always followed in the US’ footsteps,” but it can put more effort into establishing links with European countries, Ko said.
The third destination after the European Parliament is to be Warsaw, a sister city, he said, adding that he would like to visit former Polish president Lech Walesa if the opportunity arises, because “he is an old friend of Taiwan and led Poland toward democracy by overthrowing communism, so we can learn a lot from his experiences.”
The last destination is to be Istanbul, as the Turkish government has expressed interest in funding the construction of a mosque in the greater Taipei area.
Ko said he had suggested the construction of a Muslim cultural center instead, but details such as the size and funding are to be discussed during the visit.
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