Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček handed out Medal of Merit awards
to 14 people who assisted the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO 20 years
Among the laureates was the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who was a leading voice in advocating for expansion of the military alliance to central Europe, former NATO secretary general Javier Solana and his successor in the post George Robertson, officials who headed NATO at the time of the country’s admission and during its first years in the alliance.
On the home scene, the awards went to the former foreign ministers Jaroslav Šedivý, Jan Kavan and Karel Schwarzenberg, former defence ministers Vladimír Vetchý, Alexandr Vondra and Luboš Dobrovský as well as former army chiefs of staff Jiří Nekvasil and Jiří Šedivý.
As the end of 2018 draws near, Czechs are reflecting on the century of their independent state. All years ending in “8” have a special meaning for this nation – 1918, 1938, 1948, and 1968 were the main turning points for the country and its people. Pavel Kosatík is a journalist and writer, author of many books, screenplays and documentaries about Czech history.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš took part in the Armistice celebrations
in France. On Saturday evening the prime minister attended a dinner for
world leaders hosted by President Emmanuel Macron and on Sunday he joined
heads of state at a commemorative ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier on Champs-Elysees.
The Czech prime minister presented his host with a gift which he said symbolized the need to work for understanding among nations – a painting by Czech artist Zděnek Janda depicting the burning Tower of Babel.
Public gatherings, masses and commemorative ceremonies were held around the
Czech Republic in remembrance of the ten million soldiers who fell in WWI.
In Prague, political leaders, war veterans and church dignitaries attended a remembrance ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Vítkov Memorial. On the occasion, Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar presented awards of merit to 22 war veterans both from WWII and the country’s modern-day foreign missions. On Sunday evening a mass will be celebrated at St. Vitus Cathedral in memory of those who died in the war.
According to estimates some 1.4 million men from the territory of the former Czechoslovakia fought in the war, either with the Austro-Hungarian army or in the foreign legions. Approximately 140,000 of them died on the battlefield.
The 100-year history of the Czech state is closely linked to the army,
Czech Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar said on the occasion of Veterans Day
and the end-of-war celebrations in the Czech Republic.
At a ceremony on Prague’s Námestí míru, Defence Minister Metnar spoke about the crucial role of Czechoslovak legionaries in bringing about an independent state for Czechs and Slovaks and the work of Czech soldiers serving in foreign missions today. He paid homage to the four Czech soldiers who recently lost their lives serving in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
The Czech Republic has marked Veterans Day since 2001. The Defence Ministry registers 14,000 war veterans, of those just 500 from WWII.
When the Czechoslovak Republic was proclaimed in 1918, its primary founder and future president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, had grand plans for using one of the most famous periods in Czech medieval history as inspiration for what he wanted to be a state based on democratic and humanistic values. In many cases the references to Hussitism started during the era of the First Republic remain in some form or another until today. I decided to explore why Hussitism was so important in Masaryk’s First Republic and how its elements were combined into the new
Among the recipients of the state awards handed out by President Miloš Zeman on October 28, was Karel Lánský – a legend of Czech Radio broadcasting. For eight dramatic days after the Soviet led-invasion of Czechoslovakia Lánský and his team kept independent Czechoslovak Radio on the airwaves, broadcasting from secret locations in Prague and running the operation from his flat close to the radio’s Vinohrady headquarters.
One of the many successful exhibitions marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia is Mini Wonders, which explores the evolution of Czech toy design over the past century. The iconic Czech toys, including the inflatable animal-shaped seats produced by the company Fatra, have already been shown at Czech centres in Tokyo, Jerusalem, London and Prague, and will now travel to Moscow, Warsaw and Bratislava.
The Czech Republic capped of celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s founding on Sunday with display of fireworks – and firepower – after a weekend packed full of parades, memorial acts and speeches, and concerts, as well as a dazzling video mapping on the façade of the newly re-opened National Museum atop Prague’s iconic Wenceslas Square.