Czechs begin marking 90th birthday of their first independent state

28th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

As part of the commemorations, the country planned to stage its first military parade since the communist era.

Prague -- Czechs began two days of celebrations on Monday to mark the 90th anniversary of founding of their first independent state, the former Czechoslovakia.

As part of the commemorations, the country planned to stage its first military parade since the communist era.

On Monday, Czech and Slovak presidents, Vaclav Klaus and Ivan Gasparovic, planned to lay wreaths at the statue of former Czechoslovakia's first president, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.

Czech and Slovak leaders were also scheduled to attend an opening of an exhibit at the country's National Museum dedicated to former Czechoslovakia's 90th birthday.

The highlights of the display, which captures the country's pre-WWII history are three of the four originals of the so-called Munich Agreement, a pact in which European powers gave German-inhabited parts of then-Czechoslovakia to Hitler on the eve of the World War II.

On Tuesday, the Czech army, police and rescue services planned to stage their first parade in 23 years, complete with tanks, combat vehicles and fighter jets flying overhead.

The event will halt traffic on a portion of the main artery leading to Prague's international airport and the flyovers will momentarily suspend air traffic in the afternoon.

Czechoslovakia was founded on Oct. 28, 1918, as one of the republics after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I.

Czechoslovak leaders, led by Masaryk, established the state with help of US president Woodrow Wilson, who had championed the cause of self-determination for small nations at the Paris Peace Conference in 1918-1919.

Czechs and Slovaks parted ways peacefully on Jan. 1, 1993, after living in a common state for nearly 75 years.

While Czechs kept celebrating former Czechoslovakia's founding as a birth of their first independent state, commemorations in Bratislava have been low-key.

DPA/Expatica

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