published: 26.10.2012, 16:00 | updated: 26.10.2012 16:09:18
Prague - Czech President Vaclav Klaus has bestowed state awards on roughly 200 people during his term of office, substantially less than his predecessor Vaclav Havel (1993-2003) who decorated about 500 personalities.
Klaus was elected for the first time in 2003, re-elected in 2008 and his second, last term will expire next March.
Klaus will present the last set of decorations on the occasion of the Czech national holiday on October 28, commemorating the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
Like Havel, Klaus has mostly decorated war heroes.
Besides, he has awarded some popular personalities.
Klaus bestowed the medal For Merit on pop singer Karel Gott, who has kept at the top of domestic pop music almost half a century, ice hockey star Jaromir Jagr and jockey Josef Vana, eight-time winner of the Velka pardubicka steeplechase.
Klaus also awarded former director of the National Gallery Milan Knizek, who is considered Klaus's proponent.
During his term of office, Klaus always decorated some 20 persons on October 28.
Like in Havel's era, Klaus mostly bestowed the supreme Czech state decoration, Order of the White Lion, on war heroes who fought for Czechoslovakia's liberation from the Nazi rule. Many of them were later persecuted by the Communist regime.
In all, Klaus awarded 20 people with the Order of the White Lion, while Havel did so in 60 cases.
Havel decorated some foreign prominent statesmen such as former U.S. president George H. W. Bush, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former Polish president Lech Walesa, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, former German chancellor Helmut Kohli, former French president Francois Mitterrand and former U.S. president Ronald Reagan for their contribution to the demise of the Communist regime.
On the other hand, Klaus has only rarely decorated foreign personalities.
Klaus's team boasts of having reduced the number of decorations awarded in memoriam.
"Historical personalities rather deserve some streets, squares and monuments. Mixing them with our contemporaries and inviting their grandchildren to the rostrum, this does not seem to be in full harmony with the celebrated national holiday," Klaus's secretary Ladislav Jakl said last week.
Klaus has awarded in memoriam war veteran Vaclav Kojzar.
Unlike Havel, Klaus has also bestowed fewer medals For Bravery.
In 2005, he decorated with the medal Michal Velisek, an editor of the Nova commercial television station, who defended an assailed woman in Prague and the attacker shot him dead.
Klaus has decorated with the medal For Merit, a lower degree decoration, roughly 130 people, while Havel awarded roughly double the number.
Klaus has never complied with the repeated proposals of the Senate, formerly dominated by the right, to award the anti-Communist resistance group of the Masin brothers.
As they shot dead some civilians during their armed struggle in the early 1950s, their case still divides Czech society.
Three members of the group were only decorated with a plaque from former prime minister Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democratic Party, ODS).
The proposals to bestow state decorations are sent to the president by the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate, the government and individuals.
It is solely up to the president to decide on whom to decorate.
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