PRAGUE: Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Thursday (May 25) received a symbolic key to the city of Prague, the highest honour in the Czech Republic.
Prague mayor Adriana Krnacova presented the key to President Tan in the Old Town City Hall in Prague during his four day State Visit to the Czech Republic.
The Old Town City Hall was built in the 14th Century as an administration centre for the Old Town of Prague. Most prominent visitors are given copies of the key to the City Hall as a symbolic key to the city of Prague.
The last time a Singapore head of state made a state visit to the Czech Republic was when then-President Ong Teng Cheong visited Prague in 1998. He was also presented with the symbolic key.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Tan described Prague as “rich in culture and history”, with architecture that is “truly breathtaking”.
He said apart from being a holiday destination, Prague is a bustling centre for trade and entrepreneurial activity, as well as a hub for knowledge, research and technology. He added that there is a lot that Singapore and Prague can learn from each other and that he looks forward to both cities enhancing cooperation in areas like urban planning and education.
Making reference to Singapore's "Lion City" nickname, Ms Krnacova said attributes of the lion - "strength, perseverance, persistence and fearlessness" - are typical of Singaporeans.
"How else could one explain incredible development that Singapore has seen in recent decades in numerous areas?" she said.
She said the "true strength" of lions also lie in their prudence. "It is also in this respect that I see certain similarity with our mentality."
Earlier on Thursday, Dr Tan met with Czech Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Jan Hamacek and was hosted to lunch by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.
During the meetings, both leaders reaffirmed the warm and friendly relations between Singapore and the Czech Republic, said a statement from the Office of the President of Singapore.
Both sides agreed that there was potential to step up investment, trade and tourism ties and welcomed the early entry into force of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) which will bolster ties between both countries.
The leaders also discussed regional and international developments.