Speaker meets Czech delegation, lauds nation’s commitment to democracy

The Czech Republic’s commitment to democracy and defense of Ukraine are deserving of admiration, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) said yesterday while receiving a delegation led by Czech Senator Jiri Drahos in Taipei.

Drahos, who chairs the Czech Senate’s Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions, and 12 other representatives arrived in Taiwan on Sunday for a six-day visit.

Addressing a reception for the delegation at the Grand Hotel yesterday afternoon, You opened by thanking the Czech s for welcoming him and other Taiwanese lawmakers when they visited the European nation in July.

He also praised the Czech Republic as a democratic leader in the region, whose peaceful 1989 Velvet Revolution instigated a wave of democratization across central and eastern Europe.

The late Czech president Vaclav Havel — the first to be elected democratically after the fall of communism in the nation — had the foresight to recognize that the totalitarian nature of communism is unsustainable, You said.

Yet over the past few years, democracy has been losing ground, he said, pointing to Chinese and Russian expansionism, and military rule in Afghanistan and Myanmar.

The Czech Republic ranks 10th in the world in terms of monetary aid to Ukraine — seventh as a percentage of GDP — and sixth in terms of military aid, You said, citing data from Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

The nation’s defense of Ukraine in keeping with Havel’s spirit is worthy of admiration, he added.

In his address, Drahos said that although he only arrived the day before, it already feels like home.

The Czech Republic will continue to push for Taiwan’s involvement in international organizations such as the WHO and International Civil Aviation Organization, he said.

Drahos also expressed the hope of establishing direct flights between the two nations to make travel more convenient.

The delegation also includes Czech Academy of Sciences president Eva Zazimalova; Michal Lukes, general director of the National Museum in Prague; Roman Hvezda, director of the ELI Beamlines facility, an international laser research center; and officials from the fields of education, science and technology, as well as experts in epidemic prevention and information security.

Drahos had originally planned to visit Taiwan in October 2020, but postponed the trip due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional reporting by CNA

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