Tue, Nov 16, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Czech democratic legend coming to Taiwan Friday

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar Havlova will start a 6-day visit to Taiwan on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced yesterday.

After canceling trips to Taiwan twice because of his fragile health, Havel told Taiwanese officials attending a conference on Cuban democratic development in the Czech Republic in September that he wished to travel to Taiwan.

The ministry said Havel has accepted President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy's invitation to visit Taipei.

Chen and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) will host separate banquets to welcome Havel. The president will honor Havel with a medal.

The Nobel laureate in literature will give a speech at the foundation and receive an honorary doctoral degree in literature from National Chengchi University.

He also plans to host a seminar with some of the country's noted artists and writers.

"Mr. Havel pushes for democratic reform in the Czech Republic by creating literary works and leading civil movements. He is well respected and loved by the Czech people," the ministry said in a press release.

Havel, a human rights activist and playwright, became president of Czechoslovakia in 1989 after the collapse of the communist regime there.

In 1990 he became the first president of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, and was elected president of the Czech Republic in 1993 after the Czech Republic and Slovakia split.

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

"After Mr. Havel was elected president, he worked actively to deepen his country's democracy and promote human rights in order to bring about social justice. His efforts earned the world's admiration," said the press release.

Although Taiwan lacks diplomatic ties with the Czech Republic, Havel received former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), former premier Lien Chan (連戰) and First Lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) during his presidency.

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