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.
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 many others.
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.
Hundreds of people joined Saturday’s March for the Republic organized by the Czech physical fitness organization Sokol that has branches the world over.
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.
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.
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 building.
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.
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.
Sunday should be overcast with rain around the country and day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.