President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of December 20 with a delegation from the Czech Republic led by Senate Vice President Miluse Horska. In addition to welcoming the group to Taiwan, the president also called for continued progress in cooperation and interaction so as to generate further depth in bilateral relations.
In remarks, President Ma stated that Senate Vice President Horska is a distinguished politician in the Czech Republic who has strived throughout her career to foster development of special education and provide care for underprivileged groups. The president expressed admiration for the work of Ms. Horska and said that the visit to Taiwan by this delegation carries significant meaning for relations between the two countries.
President Ma stated that the ROC and the Czech Republic both share the core values of democracy, freedom, and respect for human rights. Since he took office in 2008, he said, the two sides have signed memoranda of understanding on cooperation in the fields of e-government, information exchange, intellectual property rights, telecommunications, technology, and nuclear energy, with considerable achievements to show for these efforts.
The president also thanked the Czech government for taking substantive action on a number of occasions at important meetings in the European Union (EU) to support meaningful participation for Taiwan in international organizations and activities. President Ma said that in 2009 when the Czech Republic served as the rotating chair of the EU it issued a statement welcoming Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly as an observer. The Czech Republic, he noted, also was instrumental in the EU's decision to grant ROC nationals visa-free courtesies (beginning from January 11, 2011) when traveling to nations that are party to the Schengen Agreement. In addition, the president commented that in September of this year Taiwan was invited to attend, as a special guest and for the first time, the annual assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal.
In discussing trade liberalization issues, the president explained to the visitors that over the past three years Taiwan has forged economic, trade, and investment cooperation agreements with its major trading partners, specifically pointing to Taiwan's signing of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with mainland China and the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement with Japan. Also, Taiwan has signed economic cooperation agreements with both New Zealand and Singapore, he said, adding that Taiwan and the United States have resumed negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. He expressed hope that Taiwan can deepen its trade and economic cooperation with the Czech Republic and the EU.
President Ma noted that the stock of foreign direct investment in Taiwan by the more than 20 nations of the EU now comes to over US$31 billion, making the EU the largest source of foreign direct investment here. He said that on October 9 the European Parliament passed a resolution on EU-Taiwan trade relations, urging the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, and the governments of EU member states to launch parallel negotiations on investment protection and market access agreements with Taiwan. Last year, he noted, bilateral trade between Taiwan and the Czech Republic came to over US$1.3 billion and that quite a few important Taiwanese enterprises have invested in the Czech Republic. President Ma expressed hope that the visitors will support the signing of an economic cooperation agreement between Taiwan and the EU so that bilateral relations can continue to move forward.