President Tan on visit to Poland and Czech Republic

President Tony Tan Keng Yam arrives in Warsaw today for his second state visit to Central and Eastern Europe, in a move to boost economic cooperation and scientific exchanges with Poland and the Czech Republic.

It will be the first visit by a Singapore head of state to Poland, and the second to the Czech Republic, which the late president Ong Teng Cheong visited in 1998.

The seven-day visit includes meetings with top leaders of the two nations to affirm bilateral ties, and witnessing the signing of several agreements to increase cooperation with their economic agencies, research institutions and universities.

Today, Dr Tan will meet about 30 Singaporean businessmen and exchange students at a tea reception.

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Tomorrow, the President and his wife, Mary, will be welcomed at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw before meeting President Andrzej Duda. Dr Tan will also meet the heads of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, Mr Stanislaw Karczewski and Mr Marek Kuchcinski respectively.

One highlight of the visit is the Poland-Singapore Business Forum, which will be attended by about 150 entrepreneurs and top executives from both countries. The forum will be jointly opened by Dr Tan and Mr Duda.

Poland is the largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe but its trade with Singapore is modest, totalling $962 million last year.

In the Czech Republic, Dr Tan will meet President Milos Zeman and the heads of both Houses of Parliament, Mr Jan Hamacek and Mr Milan Stech.

The Mayor of Prague, Ms Adriana Krnacova, will present him with a symbolic key to the city, an honour bestowed upon esteemed visitors.

Dr Tan will also travel to the mediaeval town Cesky-Krumlov and meet its Mayor, Mr Dalibor Carda.

The two visits complete Dr Tan's tour of the Visegrad Four - the key emerging economies in Central and Eastern Europe that are also of strategic importance. Dr Tan visited the other two - Hungary and the Slovak Republic - in 2013. The latest visits reaffirm Singapore's excellent ties with the four nations.

Accompanying Dr Tan on the trips are Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry); Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office as well as Second Minister for Manpower and Foreign Affairs; and MPs Henry Kwek and Sun Xueling.

Officials from the President's Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry are in the delegation too.

Dr Tan is accompanied by a business group led by trade agency IE Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation.

In his absence, Mr J.Y. Pillay, who chairs the Council of Presidential Advisers, will exercise the functions of the office of the President.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'President Tan on visit to Poland and Czech Republic'. Print Edition | Subscribe