Thursday, 24 April 2014

New president may live at Prague Castle

ČTK |
6 February 2013

Prague, Feb 5 (CTK) - Czech president-elect Milos Zeman will probably live in the presidential suite in the New Royal Palace at Prague Castle after he assumes office, Party of Citizens' Rights (SPOZ) chairman Vratislav Mynar, member of Zeman's team, told reporters Tuesday.

Zeman is SPOZ's honorary chairman.

Another alternative is the Lumbe villa near the Castle, the seat of the Presidential Office, where Zeman's predecessor, President Vaclav Klaus, lives.

Zeman said previously he would spare time if he lived directly at Prague Castle.

Mynar said Zeman would like to look round his possible future residence personally in the following days before making the final decision.

Zeman has discussed the possibility to live at Prague Castle with Prague Castle Administration (SPH) head Ivo Velisek.

Its spokesman David Sebek told CTK that he would comment on it only after Zeman announced which alternative he was considering.

Zeman's decision will also depend on his meeting with Klaus at Prague Castle this afternoon, Mynar said.

The Masaryk suite in the southern wing in the New Royal Palace was designed and adjusted by Slovenian architect Josip Plecnik for first Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1918-35) in the 1920s.

In the past years the president used to meet journalists in the Masaryk apartment.

The suite was partially damaged under the communist regime when it served as storage facilities and garages. The interiors were thoroughly reconstructed in the 1990s under president Vaclav Havel. However only five out of the original 12 rooms are furnished now.

Apart from the Masaryk suite, Zeman might also live in an apartment used as accommodation for state visitors in the southern wing of the New Palace.

Masaryk's successor Edvard Benes (1935-48) decided to move the presidential residence to the Royal Garden at the Castle where a villa was built in the 1940s. All communist presidents lived there in 1948-89.

However, the house is not suitable for a presidential residence at present, among others for security reasons since the surrounding garden is open to the public.

The Lumbe villa from the mid-19th century has been owned by Prague Castle since 1925. It was reconstructed in the 1990s. Klaus, who was elected head of state for the first time in early 2003, chose it as his residence in 2004 and he and his wife moved there in 2005.

Klaus's term in office expires on March 7 and his successor Zeman will be sworn-in a day later.

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