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President Tsai meets Czech delegation led by Senator Jiří Drahoš
President Tsai meets Czech delegation led by Senator Jiří Drahoš

On the morning of September 22, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation from the Czech Republic led by Senator Jiří Drahoš, Chair of the Czech Senate Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights, and Petitions. In remarks, President Tsai said that the delegation's visit at this time, coming after China's military exercises in the area, reflects the unwavering friendship and mutual support between our like-minded countries. The president further emphasized that, in the face of authoritarian expansion, we hope Taiwan and the Czech Republic will continue to look out for each other, work together to safeguard democracy and freedom, act as a force for good in the world, and further contribute to global prosperity and development.

A translation of the president's remarks follows:

I extend a warm welcome to Chair Drahoš and his delegation. This is the first delegation consisting of members of both the Czech parliament and government to arrive in Taiwan since Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil's visit in 2020. Your presence here once again demonstrates that Taiwan and the Czech Republic are like-minded countries as well as staunch partners.

I am sure you have noticed that, during the past two years, our cooperation has deepened and exchanges have become more frequent. Last year, National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) visited the Czech Republic and signed multiple MOUs to strengthen cooperation in high-tech and other industries. And this March, a group of Taiwanese semiconductor experts visited the Czech Republic to explore opportunities for further collaboration.

Your visit symbolizes another big step forward for Taiwan-Czech cooperation. In fields such as semiconductor technology, education, medicine, and museums, we will be deepening exchanges and signing MOUs on cooperation. I would like to express my sincere thanks for your visit.

You are all good friends of Taiwan. Chair Drahoš has long been active in advancing Taiwan-Czech Republic relations. I want to thank you all for supporting Taiwan, and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Czech Senate and the Chamber of Deputies for passing resolutions in support of Taiwan's participation in international organizations this year.

This May, at the World Health Assembly, the Czech Republic voiced support for Taiwan's participation. During the pandemic, Taiwan also received a great deal of support from the Czech Republic, from the forums on pandemic prevention we held together, to mutual donations of medical masks, ventilators, and vaccines. For us in Taiwan, the Czech Republic is a true partner ready to lend help.

Sharing and cherishing the values of democracy and freedom, Taiwan and the Czech Republic have together overcome the challenges of the pandemic, and have also worked together to help the people of Ukraine. Chair Drahoš, your delegation's visit at this time, coming after China's military exercises in the area, reflects the unwavering friendship and mutual support between our like-minded countries.

In the face of authoritarian expansion, we hope Taiwan and the Czech Republic will continue to look out for each other and work together to safeguard democracy and freedom. Let us act as a force for good in the world and further contribute to global prosperity and development.

Thank you once again for making this trip. I hope you have a fruitful visit. 

Chair Drahoš then delivered remarks, a transcript of which follows:

It's my great honor to be in Taiwan. I'd like to thank you for your hospitality and for a warm welcome felt immediately after we landed at [the] airport. We really feel that we are among close friends. We are indeed true friends who share common values – liberal democracy, an emphasis on the protection of human rights and rights of the minorities, and, of course, historical experience with non-democratic hostile neighbors, which makes both our nations truly appreciate the values of freedom and democracy. As our great [former] President Václav Havel once said, “The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order.” I believe our two peoples could relate to that.

I would like to thank you, Madam President, for your resolute stance concerning the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, Taiwan strongly condemned the invasion, and since then is selflessly helping Ukraine. Yesterday, I was touched by the story of your Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), who told me how Taiwanese filled all available storage with humanitarian aid.

The Czech Republic is one of the key supporters of Ukrainian defense against the vile and unprovoked attack from Russia. That is why we highly appreciate your immediate decision to condemn the war and to commit to rebuild future Ukraine. I will again cite the famous Václav Havel's words: “Indifference to others and indifference to the fate of the whole is precisely what opens the door to evil.” My country [has] already accepted around 400,000 Ukrainian refugees, the majority of them women, children, and elderly. That is why we appreciate your financial support to integrate them into our society. 

I believe that our mutual relations could be characterized by a common proverb: "A friend in need is a friend indeed." Taiwan helped tremendously during the first wave of the COVID pandemic by sending medical supplies to Czech hospitals and donated several protective mask production units. Madam President, on behalf of the Czech people, I would like to thank you for that. I'm glad that we had the chance to reciprocate this kindness by sending 30,000 vaccines to Taiwan when you needed them. I would also like to thank you for your support of villages in South Moravia struck by a tornado in summer 2021. 

I'm glad that Taiwan became our important partner, and that this relationship has been strengthened even more under the current Czech government. I fully support the policy statement of our government, according to which Taiwan is one of our key democratic partners in the Indo-Pacific area, and I'm proud we are the only one in the whole European Union having such a strong position.

Our collaboration could and should be further strengthened and developed, and that has been the main purpose of my visit to Taiwan. One of the key areas of cooperation is research and development in the field of semiconductors. I would like to thank our Taiwanese friends for a kind offer of supporting our master's and PhD students with fellowships at Taiwanese universities, and for the willingness to help us build a semiconductor research and development center in the Czech Republic. As we could see during our visit to Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan is the leader in smart chip design and manufacturing, and we are glad you are ready to share your know-how with us.

We also realize how important involvement in international institutions [is] to share experience. That is why we support Taiwanese efforts to meaningfully cooperate with organizations such as the WHO (World Health Organization). In the Czech Senate, we adopted a resolution strongly suggesting such involvement. The International Civil Aviation Organization is another example of this collaboration. Concerning aviation, I would like to make a personal request if I may, Madam President. I would greatly appreciate to see a direct flight connection between Prague and Taipei. We love having Taiwanese tourists in our country, and a direct flight could bring their numbers highly above the pre-COVID level, and it might have the same positive effect in enhancing mutual business cooperation.

I'm also a big admirer of your culture and cultural heritage. I've been to the National Palace Museum, which I consider to be one of the best in the world. It would be my great pleasure to help [facilitate] mutual exchange of exhibitions between the National Palace Museum and the National Museum in Prague. Czech people would be interested to see the richness and diversity of Taiwanese culture.

I'm glad Czech and Taiwanese relations are based on mutual respect, willingness to share knowledge, and perseverance in promoting democratic values. Even though we are geographically far from each other, we are close in our hearts. Dear Madam President, I'm truly honored by your invitation, and I would like to thank you and the Taiwanese people for [your] wonderful hospitality.

I conclude with a saying which epitomizes our mutual relations: "True friendship is more than a given hand; true friendship is a given heart."

Among the members of the delegation were Czech Deputy Minister of Education, Youth, and Sports Radka Wildová, Czech Deputy Minister of Science, Research, and Innovation Jana Havlíková, Czech National Museum General Director Michal Lukeš, and Dean of the University of Ostrava Faculty of Medicine Rastislav Maďar. The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Representative of the Czech Economic and Cultural Office David Steinke.

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