Tue, Nov 12, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Accord with Prague advances; Ko calls for smooth signing

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je speaks at a question-and-answer session at Taipei City Hall yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said he hopes a proposed sister-city agreement with the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague, can be signed without any problem, while Taipei City Council officials said that it would not be the first time Taipei used “Taiwan” in such an agreement.

Taipei’s Civil Affairs Committee on Friday shelved a proposed English-language agreement approved by the Prague City Council due to objections by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) councilors against its use of “Taiwan” as the nation’s name.

However, at a meeting of the committee yesterday, it approved the Prague proposal and passed it on to the Taipei council for review.

The committee had asked the city government to refer to its previous sister-city agreements before further review on the planned agreement.

Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib, who describes himself as a “fan of Taiwan,” met with Ko in Taipei in March and expressed his hope to establish a sister-city relationship with Taipei.

The Prague council last month voted to end a partnership with Beijing after it refused Hrib’s request to remove the “one China” pledge from their agreement, which the mayor said was unsuitable for a sister-city accord that is based on cultural exchanges.

At yesterday’s meeting in Taipei, Taipei City Government spokesman Tom Chou (周台竹) said it would not be the first time “the city of Taipei, Taiwan” was used in a sister-city accord, as five others had also used the phrase.

Among the 57 agreements signed with Taipei, 34 used “Republic of China” (ROC), 11 used only “Taipei” and five — with Penang, Manila, Houston, Los Angeles and Helsinki — used “Taiwan,” while seven older documents could not be found, Chou said.

Among the 34 agreements that were signed using “ROC,” 29 were with cities in diplomatic allies and five were with cities of non-diplomatic allies, but the sister-city accords signed after 2001 were all in non-diplomatic allies, so “ROC” had not been used for many years, he said.

KMT Taipei City Councilor Chang Shi-gang (張斯綱) said that most councilors support the Prague proposal, but he asked whether the municipality had expressed its stance on the nation’s name during negotiations.

Democratic Progressive Party Councilor Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) said that the Taipei City Council should not be stubborn on the term, as long as it is not “People’s Republic of China” or “Taipei, China.”

Later yesterday at the Taipei City Council, Ko said that the Prague document was approved by the Taipei and Prague councils, so he sent to the Taipei City Government.

Taipei respects Prague’s wording and would not take issue with it unless it finds a serious mistake, Ko said.

Taiwan’s space for international affairs has already been suppressed and is limited, so hopefully the agreement can be signed smoothly, he said.

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