Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong welcomed Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is in the country for an official visit, on Monday, January 14.
As a gracious host, PM Lee highlighted the solid associations between the two countries, including beer and Bata shoes.
“I wore them too,” The Straits Times reports Singaporean Prime Minister saying at the Istana, referring to the white canvas Bata shoes that “many generations of school children in Singapore” used during their studies.
In his speech at the official dinner honoring Prime Minster Babis, PM Lee also talked about how both curries are small in size and rely heavily on exports for our economies.
“Because both our countries are dependent on trade, we share an interest in an open and rules-based multilateral trading system.”
PM Lee also talked about how thankful he is for the Czech Republic’s “strong and consistent support” for the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.
The agreement, signed in October 2018, is one that PM Lee hopes will see swift ratification so that each party will reap soon the benefits.
In 2018, Singapore and the Czech Republic celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations.
Prime Minister Babis, who assumed office in 2017, is here for the first time on a two-day visit, along with Marta Novakova, the Czech Republic’s Minister of Industry and Trade, other senior officials as well as a delegation of businessmen. He began his visit with an official ceremony at the Istana.
In his speech at the welcome dinner, Prime Minister Babis also reflected on the commonalities between Singapore and the Czech Republic. “The stance of our governments on various issues is close enough – not only because we are affected by global problems, but also because our countries form a part of (the) international democratic community and have the privilege to enjoy peace, prosperity, and security.”
He asked that the Czech Republic be considered by Singapore as “a gateway to the EU,” and in turn, the Lion City would “open doors” for it in South East Asia.
He also invited PM Lee to visit the Czech Republic soon.
Prime Minister Babis will see the Singapore Botanic Gardens, as well as go to The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore hotel to attend a Singapore-Czech Republic Business Forum, on Tuesday, January 15.
A meeting with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is also on his schedule, as well as a visit to Nanyang Technological University’s Centre of Excellence for Testing & Research of Autonomous Vehicles.
PM Lee posted an album of Prime Minister Babis’s visit on his Facebook account, writing, Happy to welcome Czech Republic PM Andrej Babiš to Singapore!
We celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations with the Czech Republic last year, but our links are much older – in Peranakan culture, Bata shoes, and even the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. PM Babiš brought a large business delegation with him, and I hope we will continue to find new opportunities for business with each other, as well as build up our people-to-people ties. – LHL