The fate of the state awards ceremony remains uncertain


The fate of the state awards ceremony at Prague Castle, which was scheduled for next week, is uncertain due to the hospitalization of President Miloš Zeman and his inability to perform his duties. Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said he would rather postpone the ceremony than have the chancellor present the honors on Wednesday. However, if the president or the chancellor do not agree, there is nothing he can do. The Castle has so far remained silent on the plans.

“If the president will not be able to present the award and it must be done by the castle chancellor Vratislav Mynář, then the event should be postponed,” Babiš commented on Wednesday. He said that he did not consider it appropriate for Mynář to present the award “after all he has done.” Babiš was highly critical of Mynár for his “inadequate and unacceptable” activities. Mynář allowed the House Speaker Radek Vondráček (ANO) to visit Zeman in the hospital’s intensive care unit without his doctor’s awareness and permission.

However, the prime minister admitted that he had no power to force the postponement of the ceremony. “It is the decision of the president and his chancellor,” he commented. At the same time, he denied that he could present at the awards ceremony. Babiš is expected to receive a list of the honorees from the presidential office on Wednesday, which he will countersign.

The traditional ceremony in the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle is scheduled to take place on 28 October, eight days from now, but it is still unclear whether it will take place at all or who will take over the ceremony. The president’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, did not respond to repeated questions about this particular topic.

The way the award will be presented depends on the president’s decision. For example, he can appoint someone to present the awards on his behalf, he can postpone the ceremony, and the prizes can also be sent by post. “I am waiting for the president’s decision on this matter,” Vladimír Kruliš, the director of the Castle’s protocol, clarified.

Last year’s state awards ceremony did not take place because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Castle has previously said it is preparing this year’s ceremony in a similar format to previous years. But that was the initial plan before Zeman ended up in the hospital, and his ability to hold office was called into question.