Sun, Jan 04, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Vaclav Havel to drop in on Chen, MOFA announces


Former Czech president Vaclav Havel will visit Taiwan from Jan. 17 to 24 at the invitation of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

During his stay in Taiwan, Havel is scheduled to meet with Chen, deliver a speech at a forum organized by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, accept an honorary doctorate from National Chengchi University and attend a discussion with Taiwanese writers and artists.

Havel's Asian trip started yesterday. The government of India will award Havel the Gandhi Peace Prize for his contribution to world peace and upholding human rights through Gandhian means in the most difficult situations.

Thailand and Taiwan are Havel's next destinations before traveling to Indonesia, where he will take in the Lunar New Year.

Havel, a human-rights activist and a playwright, was elected president of Czechoslovakia in 1989 after the collapse of the communist regime.

He became president again in 1990 as the first president of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and was elected president of the Czech Republic in 1993.

He stepped down as president in February after serving two five-year terms in the Czech Republic.

Havel's wife Dagmar Havlova will accompany him on the trip.

Despite the Czech Republic's lack of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, Havel received former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and former premier Lien Chan (連戰). At the 1995 United Nations General Assembly, the Czech Republic supported Taiwan's unsuccessful bid to rejoin the world body.

Last February, the Taipei International Book Exhibition featured a wide range of publications from the Czech Republic, with special attention given to the publishing of two Chinese-translations of Havel's two books, The Power of the Powerless and Farewell to Politics.

Havel is also scheduled to attend a press conference launching his latest book in Taipei.

Meanwhile, President Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti promised continued support for Taiwan in the international community and wished Chen success in his re-election bid in March, Taiwan Ambassador to Haiti Hsieh Hsin-ping said on Friday.

According to Hsieh, Aristide made the pledge during a meeting on Dec. 31 at the Presidential Office with Examination Yuan President Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文). Traveling at the head of an official delegation, Yao flew into Port-au-Prince earlier the same day to take part in Haiti's 200th independence anniversary celebrations on behalf of Chen.

Aristide thanked Yao for coming to Haiti and expressed his hope that Chen would succeed in his re-election bid and visit Haiti again. He also promised to continue backing Taiwan in the international arena, Hsieh said.

For his part, Yao explained the latest economic and political developments at home to Aristide and invited him to visit Taiwan.

Stating that Taiwan is a peace-loving country where human rights and freedom are fully respected, Yao said the Taiwanese government hopes to maintain close relations with friendly nations across the world, including Haiti -- a long-time diplomatic ally of Taiwan in the Caribbean.

Yao proceeded to the Dominican Republic Jan. 2 after having concluded activities in Haiti.

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