The social elite of the Czech Republic will gather in the Vladislav Hall of the Prague Castle tonight. On the occasion of the celebration of the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia, the President of the Republic, Petr Pavel, will award or lend state honors to important personalities. Several characteristics or expectations are attached to the entire act. On the one hand, it will be Pavlo’s first similar act in this capacity, and at the same time it will be the first presidential presentation of medals by a person who is not closely connected with the Velvet Revolution of November 1989 and the changes that followed it. Pavel is expected to settle accounts with the time of his predecessor and to try to unite the Czech elites, which his predecessor Miloš Zeman divided with the hateful and blunt performance of his office. Will he succeed?
In past years, it used to be a sad tradition that many important personalities were absent from the Vladislav Hall on the evening of October 28. Either Miloš Zeman did not invite them at all (because these personalities allowed themselves to publicly criticize Miloš Zeman and his actions) or these personalities refused to come to the ceremony for personal reasons. The empty places were then filled by Zeman’s dubious friends or people with whom the president made political-business deals.
This year will be different. Rectors of universities and other important figures of public life will return to the hall of fame. On the contrary, it is significant that Miloš Zeman will be missing. The former president, who only pretends to work a few hours a week and which consists of receiving friendly journalists or critics of the government and his successor, declared that he would not arrive. He says he has two other events planned. So be it, he can do and go where he wants. But by all this he shows how much he has sunk as a man, that he was never a statesman, and absolutely did not meet his end in politics. On the other hand, if he did arrive, he probably wouldn’t hear anything pleasant in the hall. Peter Pavel is expected to reckon with and reject the dark Zeman era and return us to decent society. It can be assumed that in his speech Pavel will reflect on the situation in Ukraine, our anchoring to the Euro-Atlantic structures, but he will not avoid the domestic economic situation as well. He will certainly not attack his opinion opponents or journalists.
It can be expected that personalities who should have received it a long time ago will also receive an award from Peter Pavel, but Zeman (and perhaps Václav Klaus as well) did not receive the honor. Of course, the selection of awardees is always a subjective choice of the president. And this despite the fact that the list of awardees is countersigned by the Prime Minister. Each president left his mark or his personal preference in the selection of awardees. Today’s ceremony will thus show which direction the new president will take.
Although the events before the state act itself are not as heated as in previous years, even Petr Pavel (or his subordinates) did not avoid unnecessary mistakes. For example, there were reports in some media that the Castle had invited former prime ministers Andrej Babiš and Jiří Paroubek, but without their wives. The castle apparatus should have looked after this. It’s an unnecessary joke at the very beginning, and Petr Pavel could generously show that he is on top of things and invite the wives of former prime ministers.
In short, a lot of attention is paid to the order ceremony, because it will be perceived as a definitive confirmation of the course and legacy that Petr Pavel intends to make in Czech political history. Compared to previous years, however, these expectations have a positive tone, and the Czech public should not miss this opportunity today.