Tsai awards posthumous medal to late Czech Senate president (update)
Taipei, Sept. 3 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday conferred a posthumous honor on the late Czech Senate President Jaroslav Kubera in recognition of his long-term support for Taiwan.
The Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon was received on Kubera's behalf by incumbent Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil, who heads an 89-strong Czech delegation visiting Taiwan, during a meeting with Tsai at the Presidential Office in Taipei.
Kubera had planned to visit Taiwan in February, but died of a heart attack a few days before the trip.
In her address, Tsai said the posthumous honor is in recognition of Kubera's decades-long effort to promote closer relations between the two countries.
"The late senate president was a good friend of Taiwan and did a great deal to promote bilateral ties," Tsai said, adding that she felt deeply saddened by his passing.
The medal also highlights the long-term cordial ties between the two countries, the president added.
At the time of Kubera's death, Czech media reported that the Chinese embassy sent a letter threatening repercussions on Czech businesses if Kubera went through with the trip. His wife later said the letter contributed to his death.
Věra Kuberová, Kubera's widow, was originally scheduled to be part of the Czech delegation that is visiting Taiwan from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4, but withdrew at the last minute due to health issues.
In a pre-recorded video clip, Kuberová said she was sorry for not being able to visit Taiwan to fulfill the wish of her late husband.
She thanked Taiwan for the medal given to her husband while expressing support for Taiwan's ongoing pursuit of independence, democracy and freedom.
Receiving the medal on Kubera's behalf, Vystrčil said his predecessor was an outstanding politician and a staunch supporter and protector of democracy and personal freedom.
He was also a strong protector of the Czech Senate and a political figure who was close to the people and open to different ideas, Vystrčil said through an interpreter.
Meanwhile, while receiving Vystrčil, Tsai said Taiwan and the Czech Republic have shared experiences in fighting for democracy and freedom while combating an authoritarian regime.
"Taiwan is proud of its democratic experience and will continue to stand firm on the frontline of the global community of democracies to promote regional peace, stability and prosperity," she went on.
She said the visit of the Czech delegation has been a fruitful one during which delegation members have signed three MOUs with Taiwanese companies to enhance cooperation.
Two of Taiwan's government-owned banks are now mulling the possibility of opening branches in the Czech Republic soon and Taiwan's government-invested China Airlines is also considering launching a direct flight to the European country, according to Tsai.
She praised the delegation's visit to Taiwan for making an important first step to break down barriers even though the two countries do not have official diplomatic ties.
The president said such exchange tells "all our friends in Europe and around the world that friends upholding the same beliefs, regardless of they are Czechs or Taiwanese, will not succumb to oppression and will continue to bravely ensure our voices are heard."
"We will continue to welcome with open arms our brothers and sisters from the Czech Republic and other like-minded countries to Taiwan," the president added.
Vystrčil, the second highest ranking official of the Czech Republic, after the country's president, is the highest-level Czech official to ever visit Taiwan.
The delegation's visit has been strongly condemned by China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes any official contact that could be seen as elevating Taiwan's status as an independent nation.
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