Czech Senator Jiri Drahos yesterday said he hoped to facilitate the launch of direct flights between Taipei and Prague, as well as an exchange of exhibitions between Taiwan’s National Palace Museum and the National Museum in Prague.
“We love having Taiwanese tourists in our country and direct flights could bring the number higher above the pre-COVID-19 level, which is about 200,000 Taiwanese tourists each year. And it might have the same positive effect in enhancing mutual business cooperation,” Drahos said at a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the Presidential Office in Taipei.
“I am a big admirer of your culture and cultural heritage. I have 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 facilitate mutual exchanges 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,” he added.
Drahos, chairman of the Czech Senate’s Committee on Education, Science, Culture, Human Rights and Petitions, arrived in Taiwan on Sunday with a delegation of Czech officials and academics.
Prior to being a senator, he was the president of the Czech Academy of Sciences from 2009 to 2017.
Taiwan and the Czech Republic are liberal democracies that value human rights and rights of minorities, Drahos said, adding that both shared similar experiences of dealing with non-democratic, hostile neighbors.
Taiwan has strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and is selflessly helping Ukrainians by providing humanitarian aid and financial support, he said.
The Czech Republic is one of the key supporters of the Ukrainian defense against the wild and unprovoked attack from Russia, having accepted about 400,000 Ukrainian refugees, he said.
The financial support from Taiwan helps the integration of Ukrainian refugees — a majority of whom are women, children and elderly people — into Czech society, he added.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan also helped tremendously by sending medical supplies to Czech hospitals and donating mask production units to the Czech Republic, Drahos said.
“I am glad we had the chance to reciprocate this kindness by sending 30,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan when you needed them. I am glad that Taiwan has become our important partner, and the relationship has been strengthened even more under the current Czech government, which has stated that Taiwan is one of our key democratic partners in the Pacific area,” he said, adding that the Czech Republic is the only nation in the EU that has such a strong position.
The main objective of the visit to Taiwan this time was to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the research and development of semiconductors, with the delegation visiting Hsinchu Science Park, he said.
Taiwanese universities are offering fellowships to Czech graduate students enrolling in semiconductor programs, Drahos said, adding that Taiwan is willing to build semiconductor research and development centers in his country.
“Taiwan is a leader in the design and manufacturing of smart chips, and we are glad that you are ready to share your know-how with us,” he said.
The Czech Republic supports Taiwan’s efforts to gain meaningful participation in the WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization, he said, adding that the Czech Senate has adopted a resolution supporting Taiwan’s participation in the WHO.
Tsai said the delegation’s visit, which is taking place soon after Chinese military exercises in the area, shows the unwavering friendship that comes from like-minded countries supporting each other.
“Facing the expansion of authoritarianism, we hope that our countries continue to look out for each other and safeguard freedom and democracy together. Let us be the force for good to the world, and contribute even more to prosperity and development worldwide,” she said.
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