Taipei, July 18 (CNA) Taiwan's Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) arrived in the Czech Republic on Monday to begin a four-day-visit in the Central European country which he lauded as "a Mecca of democracy movements."
Leading a four-member delegation consisting of cross-party lawmakers, You arrived at Václav Havel Airport Prague Monday morning where he was welcomed by his Czech counterpart, Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil.
At a live-streamed press event following his arrival, You said the visit to Prague is a belated one made at the invitation of Vystrčil when the latter visited Taipei in 2020.
"We were supposed to visit last year but due to COVID-19, the trip was postponed for a year," You said.
He said he has long wanted to visit the Czech Republic, a country he called "a Mecca for democracy movements" renowned for its 1968 Prague Spring and 1989 Velvet Revolution pro-democracy movements.
The trip is also an expression of gratitude to Vystrčil in person, according to You.
You said Vystrčil was the first head of a lawmaking body from a non-diplomatic ally of Taiwan to address the Legislative Yuan during his visit at the head of an 89-member delegation from late August to early September in 2020, despite repeated warnings from China which considers Taiwan part of its territory.
You said Vystrčil has become a household name in Taiwan after drawing on former United States President John F. Kennedy's famous "I am a Berliner" speech and shouting "I am a Taiwanese!" in Mandarin during his Sept. 1 Legislative speech.
You said the historic visit of the senior Czech politician placed Taiwan in the international spotlight and showed the world that safeguarding democratic principles is more important than economic development.
Vystrčil said both sides promised to strengthen bilateral relations through the visits of members of parliament during his 2020 Taipei trip.
He noted that both countries are democratic, share common values and should support each other.
"No free country must be enslaved by another country, let alone a totalitarian one," he stressed, referring to China.
Vystrčil called his 2020 Taiwan visit a visionary one given the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which he said is showing the world "what dependence on large countries can lead to."
As his country now presides over the Council of the European Union (EU), the main task for the EU is to find its self-confidence and responsibility not only in Europe, but also in Taiwan, the Senate head said.
By welcoming the Taiwanese parliamentary delegation, the Czech Republic is showing the EU that action speaks louder than words, he said.
Following the press briefing, You and members of his delegation placed bouquets at the grave of late President Václav Havel.
Havel served as the last president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until the dissolution of the country in 1992 and then became the first president of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003 after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of communist rule in the former Soviet satellite state.
You's delegation consists of ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Huang Shih-chieh (黃世杰), opposition Taiwan People's Party lawmaker Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿), and opposition Kuomintang lawmakers Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) and Wan Mei-Ling (萬美玲), who also serves as head of Taiwan-Czech Parliamentary Amity Association.