“Czechia has changed” – Fiala hosts special dinner for former PMs to mark Velvet Divorce anniversary

Monday saw no fewer than nine former Czech prime ministers attend a special dinner hosted by the country’s current head of government, Petr Fiala. The get together was organised on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of independent Czech and Slovak republics. A special concert, attended by Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger, was then held in Prague’s Rudolfinum, where both leaders paid tribute to Czechoslovakia and its modern day successors.

Photo: Office of Czech Government

After the traditional New Year’s lunch with the president on Monday, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala sat down to a special dinner with his predecessors in office over the past 30 years.

“Despite some of us being political opponents who hold different opinions on things, I think it’s a good idea. I want all of us to be together. All of those who held the responsibility and had the opportunity to lead this country’s government, be in charge of the executive and help forge this country’s future. I want us to meet and celebrate this important anniversary.”

Petr Fiala | Photo: Office of Czech Government

The evening was attended by nine out of the 13 men who have held the position since Czechia came into existence on January 1st, 1993. Among them was the current president Miloš Zeman, the man who played a key role in the breakup of Czechoslovakia Václav Klaus, or current presidential candidate and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš.

Meanwhile, the country’s 1990s-era caretaker prime minister Josef Tošovský, as well as Bohuslav Sobotka, at whom Miloš Zeman once infamously pointed his cane, excused themselves from the evening. The only man who could not be invited was Stanislav Gross, who became the country’s youngest prime minister in 2004 but died eleven years later at the age of just 45.

Photo: Office of Czech Government

The dinner was followed by a concert in Prague’s Rudolfinum, where the Czech Philharmonic performed Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony. The event was also attended by Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger, who paid tribute to the excellent relations that Czechia and Slovakia have maintained since the Velvet Divorce.

Eduard Heger and Petr Fiala | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“Our two states chose to separate 30 years ago in a calm and friendly way. I think this is something that the whole world still admires. Not only did we manage this separation well, but we also kept our brotherly ties. Each of our countries went its own way, but what I am very happy about is that it was along the same path – towards democracy, freedom, mutual respect and support.“

Mr Fiala said that Czechia is stronger, wealthier and more experienced than it was in 1993.

“When we look back at these past three decades we must think of them not just as the period that followed the breakup of Czechoslovakia. We have to realise that this has also been the longest period of free development that our country has had in its history.

Eduard Heger and Petr Fiala | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“Czechia has changed hugely during this period. We have seen a rise in our standard of living. Our environment is now much better. Our quality of life is now fundamentally better. Our security is ensured by our membership in the largest defensive alliance in the history of the world. We are part of the European family and a fully-fledged member of the Western democratic world, something that we also proved during our successful presidency of the Council of the European Union [last year].”

The concert ended with a rendition of the Czech and Slovak national anthems.

Prague's Rudolfinum | Photo: Office of Czech Government
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  • The Velvet Divorce: 30 years

    The former state of Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two countries, the Czech and Slovak Republics, on December 31, 1992.