Singapore and Slovakia can work on urban solutions

President Tony Tan with Mayor Milan Ftacnik at the Primate's Palace in Bratislava last Friday. Dr Tan visited the Slovak Academy of Sciences yesterday.
President Tony Tan with Mayor Milan Ftacnik at the Primate's Palace in Bratislava last Friday. Dr Tan visited the Slovak Academy of Sciences yesterday.PHOTO: MTI

President Tan discusses possible areas for collaboration during visit to Slovak capital Bratislava

President Tony Tan Keng Yam highlighted urban solutions as one area in which Singapore and Slovakia can collaborate, a suggestion that won the support of the mayor of the Slovak capital, Bratislava.

The two men discussed how their cities could work together on that issue when Dr Tan met Mr Milan Ftacnik on the fourth day of a state visit to Hungary and the Slovak Republic.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they had "a good exchange" on that and other issues, such as the challenges facing both cities and how they could enhance student and tourism exchanges.

They also discussed how Singapore companies could use Bratislava as a gateway to the European Union, and how Slovak firms could use Singapore as a gateway to South-east Asia.

Dr Tan's seven-day state visit is in part to seek support for the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, which will eliminate tariffs and make it easier for firms on each side to enter the other's market.

The issue of urban solutions, which includes concerns such as water management and pollution, was also brought up by Dr Tan when he visited the Slovak Academy of Sciences yesterday morning.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, who is accompanying the President on the visit, noted room for collaboration in neuroimmunology and data storage, both areas in which the academy is doing cutting-edge work.

Academy president Jaromir Pastorek said he was keen to work with Singapore in materials science.

Last night, Dr Tan was hosted to a dinner by the Slovak Republic's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak and the minister's wife, in the Palugyay Palace.

janiceh@sph.com.sg