Centenary celebrations marking the birth of independent Czechoslovakia on
October 28, 1918 are being held around the country. Several hundred new
professional soldiers, police officers and firemen made their pledge of
allegiance at Prague Castle on Saturday in the presence of President Miloš
Zeman. Hundreds of people attended the event.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Saturday hosted a reception for visiting foreign officials who took part in the celebrations. It was attended among others by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Pellegrini, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and government officials from Croatia, Slovenia and other countries.
In the afternoon President Zeman, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini attended the ceremonial re-opening of the historical building of the National Museum in Prague. Its first exhibition, after being closed for reconstruction for over three years, is devoted to the common history of Czechs and Slovaks in the 20th century. The museum will open to the public on Sunday and will be free of charge until the end of the year.
In the regions the centenary is being marked by public gatherings, concerts, exhibitions, theatre performances or the unveiling of a statue to the country’s first president, T.G. Masaryk. Some schools have devoted special attention to life in the years of the First Republic, such as putting on a fashion show in period dress.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petřícek has welcomed the fact that the
European Parliament selected the jailed Ukrainian film director Oleg
Sentsov for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
In a statement published on the ministry’s web page Petříček said that by his conscientious moral attitude, Oleg Sentsov had gained international respect. His personal courage reminds us of the importance to advocate for human rights in the world, which is a longstanding commitment of the Czech Republic, the Czech foreign minister noted.
He further expressed the hope that Sentsov would be able to take part in the award ceremony in December and that Russia would release all prisoners of conscience imprisoned in connection with the illegal annexation of Crimea.
Hundreds of people joined Saturday’s March for the Republic organized by
the Czech physical fitness organization Sokol that has branches the world
The march set out from Prague’s Kampa Island, across the Legionaries Bridge, past the National Theatre to Wenceslas Square. It was led by a horse-drawn carriage with an actor dressed as President T.G. Masaryk, who symbolically led the march to the statue of St. Wenceslas, the nation’s patron saint and accompanied by a live band.
The Sokol (falcon) association was founded in 1862 to promote an active way of life, exercise and fair play as well as a commitment to values such as democracy and humanism. It survived adverse historical periods such as the two world wars and communism.
Many Czech historical buildings and state institutions opened their doors
to the public as part of the centenary celebrations this weekend. People
are able to visit Hrzánský palace and Lichtenstein palace.
Prague’s Municipal House, the site of the proclamation of the Czechoslovak Republic one hundred years ago, has also opened its doors to the public, as have a number of Czech ministries, including the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Congratulations on the centenary of the birth of independent Czechoslovakia
have been pouring in from around the world. Congratulatory messages have
arrived from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth,King Felipe VI of Spain, US
President Donald Trump, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italian
President Sergio Mattarella, Australian Governor General Peter Cosgrove and
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron visited Prague in person on Friday on the occasion of the centenary celebrations. Slovak President Andrej Kiska is expected to attend the culmination of the celebrations in Prague on Sunday.
The National Theatre in Prague will mark the centenary with a performance
of Bedřich Smetana’s opera Libuše, which was performed at the opening
of the National Theatre in 1881 and is reserved for very special occasions.
The performance will be proceeded by video mapping on the facade of the
The Dejvice Theatre in Prague is staging Vaclav Havel’s play Zítra to spustíme, or “ Tommorow‘s the Day!“ reflecting developments on the eve of the founding of the common state of Czechs and Slovaks on October 28th. This lesser known of Havel’s plays is also being performed at the Brno Theatre.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Prague in connection with the
centenary celebrations on Friday. Her talks with Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš focussed on bilateral topics and EU-related issues, primarily
The heads of governments agreed on the need for closer cooperation with African countries in curbing migration. Chancellor Merkel also condemned the murder of Saudi opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying she would push for joint EU action in the matter.
Prime Minister Babiš said it was wrong to create a divide between the Visegrad Group and other EU members. He stressed that the Czech Republic is pro-European and wants the EU to function well.
President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Prague late on Friday, from a visit to neighbouring Slovakia. Following talks with Prime Minister Babiš, the French president congratulated Czechs on their anniversary, saying that France stood by their side today as it had done during the founding of Czechoslovakia 100 years ago.
President Macron also spoke of the need to bolster EU unity, saying the alliance would only be successful if its members stood together. He said the Czech Republic and France agreed on the need to create a common system of European defence. The EU cannot rely on others for its security, Macron said.
The ruling coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats together with the
Communist Party have pushed through an amendment to the civil service law
in the lower house that will make it possible for government ministers to
recall state secretaries.
The opposition parties say this would mean a step back, leading to a politicized state administration.
The civil service law approved in 2014 was meant to stabilize public administration, open it up to experts and prevent purges at ministries after each general election.
The proposed change still needs to win approval in the Senate but efforts to block it can be overturned by the lower house.