Čaputová receives highest Czech honor on last visit to Prague

Zuzana Čaputová

Czech President Petr Pavel and his wife Eva received the outgoing Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová and her partner Juraj Rizman at Prague Castle on Thursday. With the trip, Čaputová has concluded her farewell foreign visits before the end of her five-year mandate. 

“The Order of the White Lion of the Civil Group, First Class, presented to Zuzana Čaputová, President of the Slovak Republic, for outstanding merit to the benefit of the Czech Republic.”

Zuzana Čaputová a Petr Pavel | Photo: Michaela Říhová,  ČTK

On Thursday, President Petr Pavel presented the highest decoration of the Czech state, the Order of the White Lion, First Class, to the outgoing Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová for her contribution to the development of relations between the two states. In return, she awarded him with the highest Slovak state decoration, the Order of the White Double Cross, First Class.

On the two-day trip, the president and her Czech counterpart discussed mutual relations, the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine on both countries, their economies and security, and the results of the weekend’s European Parliament elections, among other things. Čaputová stressed that the closeness between the two countries is important and significant, especially at a time when the whole world is facing countless crises and challenges.

Mr. Pavel thanked his Slovak counterpart for her contribution to deepening relations between the two countries and the rare harmony of views between them. He highlighted the many trips the two presidents took together, including their first trip to Ukraine shortly after his inauguration in March 2023, and to Reykjavik for the Council of Europe Summit in May 2023.

The Czech head of state further praised Ms. Čaputová’s moral values, especially her humanity, empathy, and sense of responsibility for the role she fulfilled.

Zuzana Čaputová and Petr Pavel in Ukraine | Photo: Twitter / Office of the President

“As is often the case, a lot of people tend to appreciate it later. Especially how you have stuck to your moral values, even at times which were politically turbulent, when you experienced personal attacks which exceeded what we are typically used to in our politics.”

The Slovak president similarly commended her host, saying that today’s age required precisely the type of personality and leadership that he embodied – and praised ties between the successor states of Czechoslovakia, which dissolved in 1993.

“That closeness is especially strong when it is based on mutual values – values that are built into our DNA by the founders of the First Czechoslovak Republic. We can, and should, keep returning to these values.”

Ms. Čaputová said that granting the highest Slovak state decoration to Mr. Pavel symbolised the close ties between the two countries.

The outgoing Slovak president, originally an environmental lawyer by profession, was elected in 2019 after rising rapidly from relative political obscurity. Her five-year mandate ends Saturday when her successor Peter Pellegrini will enter the role. Mr. Pellegrini’s first visit to Czechia will be at the end of the month shortly after his inauguration, as has long been tradition among Czech and Slovak presidents.