Visiting Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil said on Monday that the biggest feature shared by Taiwanese and Czechs is that they both choose to live in democratic and free societies.
Vystrčil praised Taiwan as beautiful, free and democratic during a speech at National Chengchi University in Taipei one day after his arrival heading an 89-member delegation.
"I am convinced the most important common denominator of the people of Taiwan and the Czech Republic and their biggest strength at the same time is the fact they chose to live in democracy, freely and voluntarily," Vystrčil said.
Both Taiwan and the Czech Republic have endured difficult paths to win their democracy and freedom, with both paths sharing certain similarities, Vystrčil said.
The Czech Republic gained freedom and democracy in 1989 in the Velvet Revolution after 40 years of oppression, Vystrčil said, adding that the late former President Václav Havel is their father of modern democracy and freedom, just like the late President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) is for Taiwan.
Vystrčil also praised the youth of both countries for playing an instrumental role in upholding democracy.
"In a symbolic way on Nov. 17, 1989, International Students Day, young people and students in particular, found the courage and, together with a handful of dissidents -- one of whom was Havel -- gave us the energy and strength that allowed us to gain our freedom in the Velvet Revolution," Vystrčil said.
Taiwanese students played a similar role in the Wild Lily movement of 1990, in which they demanded true democratic parliamentary elections, as well as direct presidential elections, Vystrčil said.
Vystrčil stressed the importance of upholding the hard-earned democracy and that he would never be passive against protecting freedom.
"I would never obey or accept a recommendation even if presented by the highest ranking and most powerful representatives that would weaken our independence, sovereignty and distinctiveness, while damaging freedom and democracy anywhere in the world," Vystrčil said.
Prior to winning their freedom and democracy in 1989, many in what used to be called Cechoslovakia did not protest against the oppressive communist regime, where people waited in long lines to buy goods that were in short supply, Vystrčil said.
"We were dissatisfied, we were unfree, but with the exception of domestic criticism in matters that were safe to criticize, we remained silent," Vystrčil said. "As we commonly say, almost everyone just shut up and kept up their pace."
Hence, Vystrčil said, he supports Taiwan's protection of its democracy and freedom.
"Believe me when I say that we know very well in the Czech Republic what it is like to live with a Big Brother behind your back. Because the Big Brother never forgives weakness and mistakes," Vystrčil said.
Vystrčil was referring to China, who has expressed strong objections to the trip to Taiwan by the Czech Republic's second-highest ranking official.
"Democratic countries should also support each other while supporting other countries that are actually fighting for their democracy or that may be threatened by the strong and powerful," Vystrčil said.
Vystrčil's delegation, which includes Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib and representatives of the country's political, business, scientific and cultural sectors, will be in Taiwan until Sept. 4.