Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Zeman to award Czechoslovak pre-war PM Švehla

ČTK |
30 July 2018

Topolcianky, West Slovakia, July 29 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will award pre-war Czechoslovak PM Antonin Svehla (1873-1933) on the occasion of the centenary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia, he said at a joint press conference with his Slovak counterpart Andrej Kiska on Sunday.

Zeman and Kiska arrived in Topolcianky from Hodonin, south Moravia, the native town of the first Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1918-35), by a historical train. Their joint ride was one of the events to commemorate 100 years of the independent Czechoslovak state.

"Our beloved Senate and not less beloved Chamber of Deputies, purely out of absentmindedness, did not include Antonin Svehla in their proposal for orders, but fortunately his name was in the proposals from the public. I have met this proposal with pleasure, since I would consider it a shame if one of the creators of the Czechoslovak statehood was ignored exactly at the 100th anniversary of the independent Czechoslovakia," Zeman told reporters.

He said it would be logical to award Svehla on the occasion of Czechoslovakia' anniversary. He added that T.G. Masaryk had called Svehla the leader of the domestic resistance movement.

The Czech president annually decorates significant personalities with orders and medals on the national holiday on October 28, the day when Czechoslovakia was established in 1918.

October 28 is not a state holiday in Slovakia. The Slovak president presets orders at the beginning of January, on the occasion of the anniversary of the independent Slovakia, established after Czechoslovakia's split in 1993.

Kiska appreciated T.G. Masaryk and another founder of Czechoslovakia, Slovak Milan Rastislav Stefanik. "We can thank the founders of Czechoslovakia for what they did then. Those times were not easy," Kiska said.

He added that without the establishment of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia would undoubtedly not have existed in the present state.

Zeman invited Kiska to Prague for the celebrations of Czechoslovakia's centenary on October 28. Two days later, Zeman is to visit Slovakia that will remember 100 years since the signing of the Martin Declaration, in which Slovaks said they were ready to join the newly formed Czechoslovakia.

Both presidents also agreed that Kiska would come to the Czech presidential summer residence in the Lany chateau near Prague next spring before his end in office. Kiska announced earlier that he would not seek re-election as head of state next year. However, he indicated without elaborating that he would not leave the public life completely.

The presidents' joint train ride took place on the day of the 95th anniversary of T. G. Masaryk's first arrival in the Topolcianky chateau that became his popular summer residence.

Dozens of people carrying Czech and Slovak flag welcomed Zeman and Kiska at the railway station in Topolcianky that is commonly not used for passenger trains any longer.

Both presidents then took a horse-drawn carriage to the Topolcianky chateau. A welcome ceremony with both countries' national anthems was staged at the courtyard. The presidents also laid flowers to the Masaryk statue in Topolcianky.

The chateau in Topolcianky became a summer residence of the Czechoslovak heads of state in the 1920s. The last president to use it was Communist Antonin Zapotocky (1953-57). The chateau surrounded by a park has the status of national culture heritage. It houses a hotel and a museum with a display of historical furniture, furnishing and weapons.

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