Zeman and Austrian President Van der Bellen Exchange State Honours at Prague Meeting
Zeman, whose second and last five-year presidential term expires on 8 March, has been saying goodbye to selected foreign leaders in recent weeks. Photo credit: Jiří Ovčáček, via Facebook.
Prague, March 2 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman and his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen bestowed top state awards on each other during their meeting today at Prague Castle, where Van Der Bellen and his wife Doris Schmidauer were welcomed with military honours, according to Zeman’s spokesperson Jiri Ovcacek.
Czech First Lady Ivana Zemanova was not present at the ceremony.
At their meeting, Zeman bestowed the Order of the White Lion on Van der Bellen, who in turn awarded the honorary Grand Star on Zeman.
Zeman, whose second and last five-year presidential term expires on 8 March, has been saying goodbye to selected foreign leaders in recent weeks.
After the ceremonial welcome in the First Courtyard of Prague Castle, the two presidents and the Austrian First Lady opened talks in the Habsburg Room, decorated with portraits of Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa, her son and successor Joseph II and other members of the Habsburg dynasty that ruled in the Austrian and later Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918.
“Joseph II, I think, is not very popular,” Van der Bellen said during a joint photo session before his meeting with Zeman, and asked whether a portrait of the 14th-century Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, from the Luxembourg dynasty, was also on display at Prague Castle.
The two presidents will hold a press conference after their talks, followed by a joint lunch.
Van der Bellen arrived in Prague by train on Wednesday, and his official program started today.
Zeman has a very friendly relationship with Van der Bellen, addressing him informally as “Sasha”. The two met previously in Vienna in June 2021 and April 2019, and in Prague in June 2017.
Later this afternoon, he was scheduled to meet Czech President-elect Petr Pavel, following talks with Czech Senate chairman Milos Vystrcil and PM Petr Fiala (both ODS). With Fiala, he was to discuss further aid to Ukraine and bilateral cooperation between the Czech Republic and Austria.
On Friday, Hungarian President Katalin Novak will visit the Czech Republic to say goodbye to Zeman.
Earlier this year, Zeman met Polish President Andrzej Duda in Nachod in the Hradec Králové Region, and paid his last foreign visit as president to Slovakia, also meeting President Zuzana Caputova. He also said goodbye to Serbian President Aleksander Vucic in Belgrade. On Monday, he had a video conversation with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and last week also with Israeli President Isaac Herzog. In January, he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping via a video conference.