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Ko at International Mayors Conference in Israel:Democracy Ties Our Countries Together in Friendship

Ko at International Mayors Conference in IsraelOn the morning of February 25, Taiwan time, Mayor Ko Wen-je attended the opening ceremony and dinner of the 33rd International Mayors Conference in Israel.
 
During a media interview before breakfast, Ko pointed out that a member of the Israel-Taiwan Friendship Association told him that Taiwan is one of the few countries in the world that has achieved full democracy, which is the major reason and condition underpinning the friendship between Israel and Taiwan.
 
When Mayor Ko was asked about his upcoming visit to the United States in March and whether his speech in Washington would focus on Taiwan's freedom and democracy, he responded as follows.
 
Ko said that his US speech was still in the drafting stage, but its general direction had been decided: highlighting the freedom and democracy that are the core values of Taiwan. At the opening ceremony of the International Mayors Conference the night before, he had asked Israeli lawmakers how the Israel-Taiwan Friendship Association had come about. Their answer was that Israel and Taiwan are both fully-fledged democracies, of which there are only 20 or 30 worldwide.  Taiwan’s and Israel’s democratic politics are the major reason and condition underpinning the friendship between Israel and Taiwan.
 
The mayor added that this seemed to be a major argument among key lawmakers in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Democracy and freedom are core values of Taiwan. On his trips abroad, people often tell him that they admire Taiwan for its freedom and democracy, and for its diversity and openness. On his recent visit to Malaysia, for instance, legislators there told him they envied Taiwan, as Malaysia has difficulties in achieving democracy and harmony in religious, political, and ethnic domains. So Mayor Ko has been exposed to this issue in various places.
 
Mayor Ko pointed out that from its founding until this day, Israel has always confronted challenges. Its people and leaders take pride in the fact that its well-functioning coalition governments can cooperate to successfully withstand the Arab world. These Taiwan-friendly lawmakers shared with him many points where Taiwan and Israel are similar or different. They said that the world counts only 20 or 30 truly democratic countries. Taiwan stands proudly among those, which is why Israel maintains such close relations with Taiwan among the countries of East Asia.
 
He concluded by sharing that these interactions in Israel and elsewhere have made him more aware of Taiwan’s strengths and achievements, as well as its place and value in the world.