- Miloš Zeman has been sworn in as Czech president in a ceremony at Prague Castle.
- In his inauguration speech, Mr. Zeman promised to fight the mafia, neo-Nazis and sections of the media.
- Former president Václav Klaus has pledged not to be a mere observer of events in the Czech Republic.
- The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic increased slightly to 8.1 percent last month.
- Viktoria Plzeň lost 1:0 at home to Fenerbache in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie.
Zeman sworn in as president at Prague Castle ceremony
Miloš Zeman has been sworn in as Czech president in a ceremony at the Vladislav Hall at Prague Castle. Mr. Zeman is the first directly-elected head of state in the history of the Czech Republic. After his swearing-in at a joint session of both chambers of Parliament, the new president inspected a military parade and attended a brief service in honour of St. Wenceslas, before having lunch with senior state officials. He was forced to sign the oath a second time, after the first copy was found to contain a typo.
Mr. Zeman, who is 68, has been one of the dominant figures in Czech politics since the fall of Communism. After turning the Social Democrats into a major party in the 1990s, he served as prime minister between 1998 and 2002.
New president pledges to serve as mediator and fight mafia, neo-Nazis and part of media
In his inauguration speech, Miloš Zeman repeated a previously expressed intention to represent the “lower 10 million”, meaning all but the country’s elite. Mr. Zeman said his office would serve as a neutral space for dialogue between the parties in parliament, but also other significant organisations, adding that he wished to serve as a mediator, not a judge. He also pledged to fight the mafia, neo-Nazis and sections of the media, which he accused of brain-washing the public.
Mixed reaction from politicians to new president’s speech
There has been a mixed reaction from Czech politicians to the president’s inauguration speech. The minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek of TOP 09, said he was disappointed that the new head of state had made no reference to foreign policy and in particular to the European Union. The Civic Democrats’ Jaroslav Kubera said the president was the only politician who could afford to speak about the media in such a way, while his party colleague Jiří Pospíšil said that while he had not welcomed Mr. Zeman’s attack on the media, he appreciated his promise to serve as a moderator between the political parties. The latter view was also endorsed by Michal Babák of Public Affairs.
Klaus promises not to be mere observer of events after departure from Prague Castle
Mr. Zeman succeeds Václav Klaus, whose second consecutive five-year term came to an end on Thursday. At midnight, the president’s standard was removed from Prague Castle, the bells of St. Vitus Cathedral were rung and the Castle Guard performed the Czech national anthem. Earlier, Mr. Klaus had said, in his final address to the nation on Czech Television, that he did not plan to be a mere observer of goings on in the country. His presidential career ended on something of a low note, with a marked fall in his popularity ratings following the declaration of a controversial amnesty. A number of rock concerts and other events were held to celebrate his departure.
National Museum to exhibit diplomas of Czechoslovakia’s first three presidents
Prague’s National Museum will this weekend exhibit the diplomas of Czechoslovakia’s first three presidents, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Edvard Beneš and Emil Hácha. The historical parchment documents – which officially informed each president of his election – will be on show on Saturday and Sunday at the usually inaccessible Presidential Salon at the museum’s Vítkov National Memorial building.
Czech unemployment climbs slightly to 8.1 percent
The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic rose to 8.1 percent in February, up from 8.0 percent in January. According to figures released on Friday, 593,000 Czechs were out of work last month. The unemployment rate in the capital Prague reached 4.6 percent. The Czech economy is at present going through its longest recession on record.
Eva Jiřičná wins top UK prize for women in architecture
Eva Jiřičná has been awarded the 2013 Jane Drew Prize for her outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture. The jury described the Prague-born architect as incredibly influential and extraordinary, saying she had reinvented the idea of retail in the UK with her 1988 store for the fashion label Joseph. The architect, who is 74, set up Eva Jiřičná Architects in 1982; her clients have included such names as London’s Selfridges and The Royal Academy of Arts.
Viktoria Plzeň lose 1:0 at home to Fenerbache in Europa League round of 16 first leg
Viktoria Plzeň were beaten 1:0 at home by the Turkish side Fenerbache in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie on Thursday night, ending a nine-match unbeaten home run. Plzeň rarely threatened Fenerbache’s goal and the only strike of the game came from the latter’s Pierre Webo ten minutes from full-time. Plzeň, the last remaining Czech club in European competition, travel to Istanbul for the second leg next week.
Štěpánek hoping to be fit for Davis Cup tie against Kazakhstan
Five weeks after undergoing cervical spine surgery, the tennis player Radek Štěpánek will return to full training on Monday and says he hopes to be fit for the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup quarter-final tie with Kazakhstan at the start of April. The country’s number two is set to fly to Florida to train with coach Petr Korda. In December Štěpánek led the Czechs to their first Davis Cup triumph in over 30 years.
Forecasters say we can expect grey skies and rain in the coming days, with temperatures reaching a maximum of 7 degrees Celsius.