TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil announced on Thursday (Aug. 6) that he and a more than 90-person delegation will embark on a trip to Taiwan Aug. 29.
In an interview with CNA on Thursday, Vystrcil said that his delegation is scheduled to fly on a chartered jet from Prague to Taipei on Aug. 29 and return to the Czech Republic on Sept. 5. The delegation will comprise about 90 people, including scientific researchers, members of the Czech Senate, and business representatives.
Vystrcil also revealed that he will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃). He said that if given the opportunity, he would be very willing to speak at the Legislative Yuan.
In the technical field, the delegation is scheduled to discuss projects to cooperate with Taiwan on artificial intelligence, aerospace, and modern waste disposal. In the political realm, Vystrcil said the delegation will discuss shared values such as freedom, democracy, sovereignty, and human rights.
He emphasized that these values are "the most important foundation" for the development of the country. Vystrcil said that if the values are sacrificed for the sake of money, even the financial benefits may be lost in the end.
Vystrcil said that Taiwan and the Czech Republic have had many parallels in their respective transformations into democracies and that he was eager to "finally get a chance to see the people of Taiwan, who I think have achieved great success." The Czech senator emphasized that he believes parliamentary diplomacy is an important part of democratic politics, with the trip to Taiwan being the result of parliamentary diplomacy.
Amid concerns about the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), Vystrcil said the delegation will undergo a two-week quarantine and be tested for the virus twice before departing. As for Taiwan's handling of the outbreak, he said that the country's epidemic prevention results are "obvious to all" and that the Czech people have increasingly viewed Taiwan favorably as a result.
In an interview with Czech media in June, Vystrcil said that he was initially inspired to make the trip by late Senate leader Jaroslav Kubera, who passed away in January amid intense pressure from Beijing to back out of a similar visit. He said he felt he had the responsibility to fulfill Kubera's wish to visit Taiwan.
Later, due to pressure from the Chinese embassy to scuttle the trip, the aim to promote economic and trade ties, and out of respect for a fellow democratic country, he became convinced that he must visit Taiwan. He made his final decision after no top Czech officials objected to China's actions: "I saw no other way to preserve the sovereignty and honor of the Czech Republic than to go there."