Taipei, July 5 (CNA) Outgoing Slovak representative to Taiwan Martin Podstavek was awarded a state honor on Tuesday in recognition of his efforts at strengthening bilateral relations during his five-year-tenure, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
In a ceremony held at MOFA's Taipei headquarters, Deputy Foreign Minister Harry Tseng (曾厚仁) presented the Grand Medal of Diplomacy to Podstavek, head of the Slovak Economic and Cultural Office Taipei, which represents Slovakian interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.
Since assuming office in 2017, Podstavek has played an active role in furthering the relationship between Taiwan and the Slovak Republic in a range of areas, Tseng said during the presentation ceremony.
The two countries have since become close partners sharing democratic values and are now facing the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, hand-in-hand, Tseng added.
Over the past few years, relations between Taiwan and Slovakia have reached new heights, following Slovakia's donation of 160,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan in 2021 and the visits of Karol Galek, state secretary of the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic, and Slovak National Council Deputy Speaker Milan Laurenčík to the country, he said.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) also visited the Slovak Republic in October 2021 where he delivered a public address, Tseng said.
Tseng also highlighted the joint efforts of Podstavek and his wife Chen Liang Podstavek in promoting Taiwanese-Slovak language and cultural exchanges over the past years. He said the envoy has laid a solid foundation for mutually beneficial relations between two sides.
In response, Podstaveke praised Taiwan as a beacon of democracy, saying that despite the great geographical distance between the two, both have undergone a similar process of democratization.
Taiwan is a trustworthy friend of Slovakia and both sides have helped each other during the ongoing pandemic, the envoy said.
He also thanked Taiwan for donating US$2.5 million to the Slovak Republic to help Ukrainian refugees in his country.
The diplomat noted that a number of bilateral economic and judicial agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed during his tenure.
On a personal note, Podstavek said he leaves with fond memories of Taiwan from his five-year-tenure.
Presentation ceremonies for outgoing ambassadors and foreign representatives are usually hosted by the nation's foreign minister but Wu was unable to attend the event on Tuesday as he is currently under home quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 on June 30.