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Czechs team up with Taiwan for Ukraine reconstruction


Tomas Kopecny, the Czech government envoy for Ukraine, Taiwan deputy foreign minister Roy Lee and David Steinke pose for a group photo after an event in Taipei

Tomas Kopecny, the Czech government envoy for Ukraine, Taiwan deputy foreign minister Roy Lee and David Steinke, the Czech representative in Taiwan pose for a group photo after an event in Taipei, Taiwan, November 10, 2023. REUTERS/Ben Blanchard Acquire Licensing Rights

TAIPEI, Nov 10 (Reuters) – The Czech and Taiwanese governments signed an agreement on Friday to work together to help reconstruction work in Ukraine, with a senior Czech envoy praising Taipei as a “great ally” despite the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

Ukraine has won broad sympathy in Taiwan after Russia’s invasion, with many Taiwanese seeing parallels between Ukraine’s situation and the threat Taipei’s government says it faces from China, which claims the island as its own territory.

Taiwan has donated more than $100 million for humanitarian relief, and joined in Western-led sanctions against Russia. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine “a special military operation”.

The agreement between Taiwan and the Czech Republic, signed by the de facto ambassadors in each other’s capitals, will see the two working together on rebuilding water and energy systems.

Visiting Taipei for the signing ceremony, Tomas Kopecny, the Czech government envoy for Ukraine reconstruction, said his country had “such a strong connection with Taiwan”.

“We are very happy that the country that is defending us on our behalf, Ukraine, is being supported by our great ally and friend, Taiwan, together with us,” Kopecny said at the ceremony at Taiwan’s foreign ministry.

Taiwan has no formal diplomatic ties with any European country except the Vatican.

But Central and Eastern European countries have been particularly keen to show support for Taiwan – especially following Russia’s attack of Ukraine – defying Beijing’s anger about such contacts and lessening Taiwan’s international diplomatic isolation.

China has declined to condemn Russia for the invasion of Ukraine it launched in February 2022 and has maintained close ties, though it has also sent envoys to help peace efforts.

Deputy Taiwan Foreign Minister Roy Lee said aid would expand into other areas to assist resume normal life “when Ukraine is approaching final victory”.

“It is only the unity of democratic countries that will be able to punish and deter authoritarian countries to make the same wrong decision again,” Lee said.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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