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Ministry considering cultural center in Istanbul: Lung Ying-tai

TAIPEI--The Ministry of Culture is thinking about setting up a cultural center in Istanbul, Turkey, to facilitate cultural exchanges between Taiwan and the Islamic world, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai said yesterday.

Taiwan has been focused mostly on building networks within the United States and Europe, Lung said at a meeting in Taipei with Safak Pavey, a member of the Turkish Parliament and a human rights activist.

“We would like to build more connections with Latin America and the Islamic world, with Turkey for example, so that our worldview is not narrowed to only a Euro-American centered view,” the minister said in English.

Istanbul is a place “where the East meets the West,” and Taiwanese artists and the general public could benefit much from learning more about Islamic art, religion and way of life, said Lung, who visited Istanbul in 1978.

Taiwan and Turkey could promote writer exchanges and organize film festivals, she suggested.

In response, Pavey said she will do everything in her power to help make the idea of a Taiwanese cultural center in Istanbul a reality and hopes the proposal will be embraced by her country.

She also agreed that books and words are very powerful tools for learning about another culture and that Turkey and Taiwan should have more exchanges in those areas.

Meanwhile, Lung said she respected Pavey's success in creating a life for herself after she lost her left arm and leg in a train accident in Switzerland in 1996.

The minister urged Pavey, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to explore the possibility of having the committee work with Taiwanese NGOs to help the disabled.

In response, the parliamentarian said “certainly, any way to empower human rights in any respect, I shall be ready, as long as I am holding this position.”

Pavey said she hopes to learn during her one-week visit how Taiwan has succeeded in various fields, including culture, despite its political isolation.

Taiwan currently has three cultural centers abroad — in New York, Tokyo and Paris. The Culture Ministry said last month that it plans to also set up centers in London and Moscow and increase the total number to 11.

Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay said last month that Turkey is eager to promote cultural relations with countries around the world, including China, and that it will also like to build ties with Taiwan.

In response to Gunay's remark, Lung told CNA after her meeting with Pavey that she hopes to focus a lot on Turkey, given its rich history and its art and religious culture.

She said young people in Taiwan should learn more about Turkey, which she described as a moderate Islamic country that could serve as a bridge for Taiwan into the Islamic world.

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