published: 06.03.2013, 15:09 | updated: 06.03.2013 16:00:53
Brno - The Czech and Slovak presidents, Vaclav Klaus and Ivan Gasparovic, presented each other with the top state decorations today, one day before the end of Klaus´s presidential mandate.
At the ceremony in the Tugendhat villa in Brno, Klaus presented Gasparovic with the Order of the White Lion.
Gasparovic presented Klaus with the Order of the White Double Cross.
The two presidents praised cooperation between their countries as very good.
Gasparovic also appreciated Klaus´s contribution to the peaceful split of Czechoslovakia, the then joint state of the Czechs and Slovaks, in 1993.
It was the UNESCO-listed functionalist Tugendhat villa where Klaus, the then Czech prime minister, and his Slovak counterpart Vladimir Meciar agreed on the division of Czechoslovakia in the latter half of 1992.
Klaus and Gasparovic were originally scheduled to exchange state decorations during Klaus´s recent visit to Slovakia, his last foreign trip before the end of his mandate.
The ceremony did not take place, however, reportedly at the Czech side´s request.
The Order of the White Double Cross has been awarded by the Slovak president to foreign citizens for merits such as their contribution to the development of relations with Slovakia.
Its holders include former Czech president Vaclav Havel, Danish Queen Margrethe II, former NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and former Polish president Lech Kaczynski.
Unlike the Slovak order, the Czech Order of the White Lion has been awarded by the president not only to outstanding foreign but also Czech citizens.
Its holders include British Queen Elizabeth II, Spanish King Juan Carlos, former French president Jacques Chirac, former U.S. president Bill Clinton and former U.S. secretary of state, Czech-born Madeleine Albright.
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