On the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia President
Miloš Zeman handed out state distinctions to leading personalities and
selected members of the public. Among the historical figures honoured in
memoriam on the occasion of the centenary celebrations are Antonín
Švehla, who served three terms as the prime minister of Czechoslovakia in
the years of the First Republic, and three generals of the First Republic
Josef Bilý, Stanislav Čeček and Karel Husárek.
The president also awarded medals for bravery, in memoriam, to three Czech soldiers killed in Afghanistan in August of this year, Martin Marcin,Kamil Beneš and Patrik Štěpánek.
Other recipients include two-time Olympic gold medallist, Ester Ledecká, and retired tennis player Radek Štěpánek.
The Office of the President has sparked controversy by failing to invite President Zeman’s critics to the event. Dozens of others refused to attend in protest.
A fireworks display in Prague took place at 19 hours 18 minutes
–symbolizing the year of the birth of Czechoslovakia 100 years ago.
It was titled “Our Common Century” and was dominated by Czechoslovakia’s national colours – blue, red and white.
The 10 minute show reflected milestone moments in the country’s history, national symbols, the natural beauties of Czechoslovakia and the sports successes achieved over the years.
Each of the sections was accompanied by different music, such as excerpts from Bedřich Smetana’s opera Libuše of his cycle of symphonic poems My Country.
US Secretary of Defence James Mattis has expressed deep regret over the
loss of Czech lives in Afghanistan in the past three months. The US
official, who took part in the celebrations marking 100 years since the
birth of Czechoslovakia, and met with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš,
said the US administration acknowledged and appreciated the way in which
the Czech Republic was fulfilling its NATO commitments in working for peace
and security, among others by its presence in Afghanistan.
The Czech Republic lost four soldiers serving in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan this year. Three were killed in a suicide blast near the Bagram military base in August and another was killed in an attack at the start of this week. Five others were injured in a bomb blast last week.
The Czech and Slovak prime ministers, Andrej Babiš and Peter Pellegrini
said, on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Czechoslovakia, that
due to seven decades of coexistance in a common state Czechs and Slovaks
are closer than any other nations in the world.
Prime Minister Pellegrini said this was something that must be nurtured and developed if it was to be preserved for future generations.Prime Minister Babiš said that he wished both nations another 100 years of freedom, democracy and pride..
Today the Czech Republic and Slovakia are close allies in the EU, with the only marked difference in that Slovakia has adopted the euro, while the Czech Republic has no immediate plans to do so.
One of the highlights of the centenary celebrations in Prague was the
biggest military parade in the country’s modern history. The parade on
Evropská street showcased the best that the country’s security forces
have to offer. Over 2,000 people including professional soldiers from the
country’s elite units, police officers, firemen and emergency crews took
part, displaying the latest military technology. A planned flyby of Gripen
army planes and helicopters went ahead, despite heavy rain.
The parade was viewed, from a special tribune, by Czech and Slovak top officials, visiting foreign guests and members of the diplomatic corps. Among the foreign guests present was US Secretary of Defence James Mattis.
The historic building of the National Museum, which was ceremonially opened
by Czech and Slovak top officials and visiting foreign dignitaries on
Saturday, opened its doors to the general public at precisely 10 am on
Sunday. Despite heavy rain people queued up for the opportunity to be among
the first to see it.
The museum, which underwent a complex renovation over the past three and a half years, offers visitors an exhibition documenting the coexistence of Czechs and Slovaks in the 20th century.
The museum opened with a special ceremony and video-mapping show also highlighting the milestones of the country’s common history. It will be free of charge to visitors until the end of the year.
Czech and Slovak top officials, among them Czech President Miloš Zeman and
Slovak President Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Slovak
prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, gathered at Prague’s Vítkov Memorial
before mid-day on Sunday for a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, to mark the centenary of the birth of
independent Czechoslovakia and pay homage to those who laid down their
lives for the country.
Shortly after, President Miloš Zeman appointed new army and police generals. A ceremonial change-of-guard at Prague Castle at midday attracted dozens of people, despite cold weather and heavy rain.
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.