Monday, 19 March 2018

Zeman, other officials commemorate first Czechoslovak president

8 March 2018

Lany, Central Bohemia, March 7 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman and other elected officials commemorated the first Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1918-35) on the occasion of his 168th birth anniversary at his grave in Lany on Wednesday.

The local chateau has been used as the presidential summer residence since Masaryk's era.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and the chairmen of the upper and lower house of parliament, Milan Stech (Social Democrats, CSSD) and Radek Vondracek (ANO), also paid tribute to Masaryk on Wednesday.

Zeman, who defended his post in the January direct presidential election, will be inaugurated for another five-year term at Prague Castle, the seat of kings and presidents, on March 8, a few hours before his first mandate expires.

Zeman visited Masaryk's grave on the day of his first inauguration five years ago.

Zeman laid a wreath to the Masaryk's grave and he and his wife Ivana listened to the military taps played on the trumpet by a Castle Guard member during the five-minute ceremony at the Lany cemetery on Wednesday.

Another commemorative event attended by politicians and representatives of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and the Falcon sport organisation was held at the Lany cemetery about one hour after Zeman's departure. The Czech national anthem and Masaryk's favourite folk song were played on this occasion.

Babis left Lany for South Moravia to commemorate the victims of the Roma Holocaust in Brno and take part in a meeting marking Masaryk's birth in his native town of Hodonin later on Wednesday.

Like in the past years, Stech laid flowers at the statue of Masaryk on Hradcany square outside Prague Castle on Wednesday.

Masaryk started going to Lany in 1920, while he chose the local chateau as the presidential summer residence in 1919 after his first election. He died in the chateau on September 14, 1937, at the age of 87 years, almost two years after he resigned for health reasons.

Masaryk as well as his wife Charlotta, their son Jan, Czechoslovak foreign minister in 1940-48, and daughter Alice lie buried in Lany.

Emil Hacha, president of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, lived in the Lany Chateau during WWII. Then the chateau was used only rarely.

It was revived under the first post-communist president Vaclav Havel (Czechoslovak president in 1989-92 and Czech president in 1993-2003). His successor Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013) visited the chateau regularly and so does Zeman.

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