President-elect Petr Pavel.
Prague – The Czech Republic will have a new head of state starting this afternoon. After taking the oath, Petr Pavel, who won the direct election in January, will officially become the president. The current president Miloš Zeman's second term expired at midnight today.
Photo gallery: President-elect Petr Pavel
Pavel will arrive at Prague Castle shortly before noon, his first steps will lead through the Giant's Gate, which was closed at midnight as a sign of the temporary vacancy of the presidential office. At noon, together with his wife Eva, he plans to have lunch with Zeman and his wife Ivana.
The pledge is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at a joint meeting of both chambers of Parliament. It will traditionally be held in the Vladislav Hall at Prague Castle in the presence of about 800 guests. In addition to MPs and senators, it will also be attended by other public figures including, for example, ambassadors, representatives of the judiciary or rectors.
Pavel will place the promise in the hands of Senate President Miloš Vystrčilo (ODS), he plans to recite it by heart. They must then confirm it with a handshake and signature. This will be followed by a speech lasting about twenty minutes.
After the inauguration, Pavel will greet the public from the balcony in the third castle courtyard and lay a flower next to the statue of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigu Masaryk. This will be followed by a glass of wine in the Spanish Hall, where about 2,500 people have been invited. The festive afternoon will end with a prayer in the St. Vitus Cathedral.
On Friday, Pavel wants to start exercising his presidential powers when he appoints Petr Hladík (KDU-ČSL) as Minister of the Environment in the morning. On Monday, he will leave for his first foreign visit, traditionally leading to Slovakia.