Former NATO General Petr Pavel Sworn in as Czech President

Former NATO General Petr Pavel Sworn in as Czech President

Former NATO General Petr Pavel was sworn in as Czech Republic’s President on March 9.

In his maiden speech as the Czech President, Pavel underlined peace in Ukraine. “Central Europe’s single voice will be important if we are to help Ukraine prevail,” he said at the ceremony at Prague Castle. “It is in our own vital interest to support Ukraine.”

The new president vowed to lift his country’s reputation abroad “to a new level.” He said, he would back policies to quash inflation, which ran at 17.5% in January, while also pledging to fix public finances.

Pavel was elected in January, having defeated former Prime Minister Andrej Babis, a billionaire populist, in the run-off. He was a career soldier, having joined the army during the Communist era and was decorated with a French military cross for valour during peacekeeping operations in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The social liberal leader campaigned as an independent, and pledged to firmly anchor the Czech Republic in the European Union and NATO, and to boost relations with the United States. His stand was entirely different from his predecessor Milos Zeman, who had sought to boost ties with Russia and China. Zeman served as president for 10 years and his last five-year term expired on March 8.

While the role is mostly ceremonial, the Czech President names the government, appoints the central bank governor and Constitutional Court judges, and serves as the supreme commander of the armed forces.