A joint meeting of both chambers of the Parliament, at which the newly elected President Petr Pavel made a promise to the President of the Senate, Miloš Vystrčilo (ODS). March 9, 2023, Vladislav Hall, Prague Castle.
Prague – The restoration of the former standard vandalized in protest against the policies of the then president Miloš Zeman and the promise of a return to dignity and decency framed the inauguration of the new president Petr Pavlo. Society is not divided, rather it has gotten used to talking more about what divides it, he said in his inaugural speech. He named everyone as his new team, regardless of who they voted for in the presidential election or not. At today's joint meeting of both chambers of the Parliament in the Vladislav Hall of the Prague Castle, Pavel took the presidential oath and began a five-year term.
Photo gallery: President-elect Petr Pavel and his inauguration
Pavel was elected president at the end of January, when he defeated former prime minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) in the second round of direct elections. He replaced Miloš Zeman at Prague Castle. Pavel had lunch with Zeman at noon today in the presence of his wives Eva and Ivana. After the solemn oath, he delivered the inaugural speech, greeted the citizens in the third castle courtyard, laid a flower at the statue of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigu Masaryk and spoke to about 2,500 guests at a festive glass of wine in the Spanish Hall. In the early evening, representatives of churches and the Jewish community blessed the new president in St. Vitus Cathedral.
Pavel made the promise with his palm resting on the constitution in the hands of Senate President Miloš Vystrčilo (ODS). Shortly after the oath, 21 cannon volleys thundered from nearby Petřín, and the Czech national anthem sounded in the hall itself. Pavel's arrival in the hall and his departure were accompanied by long applause from legislators and guests, later Pavel also earned it from his supporters in the third courtyard, which was mostly full. On the other hand, there were whistles when Zeman appeared on the big screen. When asked by ČTK, the police stated that they do not have an estimate of the number of participants.
In a speech on the balcony in the third courtyard, Pavel emphasized that the constitution requires the president to take care of the values on which he stands. It is about human rights, dignity, equality before the law, he added. He developed the presidential standard, which in 2015 the Ztohoven group exchanged for red shorts in protest against the policies of the then president Zeman. The standard underwent restoration and the symbols that the artists had removed and cut were returned to it. Pavel promised to return the standard to the Castle during the campaign, it will become part of the tour circuit.
In his inaugural speech, Pavel recalled his promise to return dignity, respect, decency and other values to the leadership of the country, which he said had been resigned. He believes that society is not divided, it has only become accustomed to talking mainly about what divides it. According to Pavel, the Czechs showed by voting in the elections that they prefer truth and decency to hateful attacks and distortion of reality. In foreign policy, the Czech Republic can be a cohesive player, he said. According to him, a unified Central European voice will be important to help Ukraine win the war with Russia that it has planned.
Pavel also promised to soon publish a plan of specific goals for the first 100 days in office. The so-called 100 days of defense after taking office would not be his own, he would rather be criticized for an overly active start, he said. He wants to continue traveling to the regions, open up the Castle more and return transparent communication to it. He will support measures to restore public finances, even if, according to him, they will sometimes hurt.
In his inaugural speech, the political scientist was attracted by an appeal to try to learn from failure, not to think too much and try things again. Both Stanislav Balík and Ladislav Mrklas also appreciated in their comments for ČTK that Pavel, unlike his predecessor Zeman, did not take care of his accounts. Balík described the speech as an interesting mix of topics and pointed out that Pavel did not mention national politics too much. According to Mrklas, it's all right, because the president should only comment on national politics in a general and moderate way.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) said that the atmosphere at the inauguration was different than five or ten years ago, when Zeman made the promise. According to him, he felt joy, relief and confidence in the future. According to him, Zeman deliberately divided the company, so he is looking forward to working with Pavlo, who intends to strive for the opposite. Former Prime Minister Babiš and Pavlo's opponent from the second round of the election did not want to comment too much on the inaugural speech. He wants to express himself after Pavel announces his opinion on the lower June valuation of pensions, which was pushed by the government in Parliament.
In the Spanish Hall, Pavel thanked his wife Eva, his family, his close team and all supporters, including the Harley players, for their support. He said that his wife is behind a significant part of his success in the election of the head of state. He promised to be a full-fledged first lady, unlike her predecessor. It will deal with health prevention, family topics and support for children and seniors.
During the ecumenical prayer in the chapel of St. Wenceslas in the St. Vitus Cathedral, Paul was blessed by representatives of the Catholic and Evangelical churches as well as the chief regional rabbi. Pavel and his wife bowed to the skull of the main patron of the Czech lands, St. Wenceslas. In the new part of the cathedral, the Czech Philharmonic and the Prague Philharmonic Choir performed three symbolic works after the national anthem – Meditation on the Old Bohemian hymn St. Wenceslas by Josef Suk, a part from the oratorio St. Ludmila by Antonín Dvořák and the Te Deum by the same composer.
During the inauguration, Prague Castle was open to the public, who could watch the ceremony on large-screen screens on Hradčanské náměstí and the third castle courtyard. Not one of the places was completely full, the participation could also be affected by unfavorable windy weather with showers. The police officers announced that they did not have to deal with any extraordinary event or disturbance of public order during the inauguration.
Experts described the new first lady's dress as formally perfectly mastered and at the same time distinctive. They also positively evaluated the fact that Eva Pavlová chose two different outfits for today's two occasions, as well as the courage to choose bold colors. Experts contacted by ČTK agreed that the appearance of the presidential couple is a symbol of change in the presidency.
In their articles, foreign intelligence agencies recalled Pavlo's victory over the “populist” Babiš and also Zeman, who, according to them, divided society . Zeman's tenure is discussed in more detail, for example, by the Polish agency PAP, which pointed to his departure from Russia in light of Moscow's aggression in Ukraine. The German media emphasized Pavlo's pro-Western attitudes and positive attitude towards the European Union.