President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog were welcomed this morning to the Czech Republic with a state welcoming ceremony and honor guard at Prague Castle in the Czech capital. The President and the First Lady were personally greeted by Czech President Miloš Zeman and First Lady Ivana Zemanová. During the ceremony, both nations' anthems were played and the presidents reviewed an honor guard.
After the ceremony, President Herzog and President Zeman conducted a tête-à-tête, after which they held an expanded bilateral meeting with the participation of both delegations.
President Herzog and President Zeman then made statements.
At the start of the state luncheon, President Herzog awarded President Zeman the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor, presenting the honor for the first time in his presidency. In its reasoning, the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor advisory committee noted the Czech President's deep friendship with the Jewish People, his consistent support for Israel on the international stage, and his "zero tolerance" policy toward terrorism and antisemitism.
President Isaac Herzog's full remarks:
My friend, President Miloš Zeman, I am very glad to be here today, with you—one of the State of Israel’s greatest friends in the whole world.
The Czech-Jewish writer Franz Kafka wrote in his diary in February 1922: “Possibilities exist in me, possibilities close at hand that I don’t yet know of.” President Zeman, for many years you have proven beyond all doubt that the possibilities and opportunities within you are well-known and famed as a beacon and an example for all of us, for the Czech Republic, for Israel, and for the whole of humanity. You are an important ally, and your love of Israel has given it renown in the family of nations. It is no secret that for several decades, Israel and Czechia have been true partners, learning from each other, supporting each other, and relying on each other.
We remember well, and shall always remember, the Czech support for the establishment of the State of Israel. We also remember Czechia's greatest leaders, and for many years, it has been thanks to this amity and partnership that we have advanced our nations’ shared ideological, economic, and security interests.
This is not my first time here. My wife Michal and I accompanied the historic visit of my father, Chaim Herzog, as the Sixth President of the State of Israel—a visit that made a mighty impact on us, impressing us deeply to this very day. The excitement that we felt back then is much more intense now, because of your vision, my friend, President Miloš Zeman, and the manner in which you have worked to bring it to fruition. It is a vision that impacts our nations' relationship.
We thank you for your support for the State of Israel in international forums. We thank you for your clear moral stance, taking Israel's side against the many enemies who wish to destabilize the Middle East. I thank you for your staunch support and your decision concerning the relocation of the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. This is another example of your friendship. How fortunate are we to have merited such a true friend as you! We are all proud of the potential for the relationship between our peoples, covering immense fields of cooperation, and I am confident that they will continue to flourish.
At the state luncheon, I shall award you the highest honor that an Israeli president can bestow: a statement of appreciation and respect for your involvement, friendship, and leadership. Thank you very much.
Czech President Miloš Zeman said: "Mr. President, allow me to welcome you once more to Prague Castle. We face another opportunity to strengthen our collaboration in many fields, including defense, security, and technology—a field in which we are familiar with the virtues of the Israeli side.
"Needless to say, the Czech Republic fully supports the Israeli people against the international community. In this context, we also discussed with Mr. President the anti-Israel decision of the U.N. Human Rights Council, a decision that we have both forcefully condemned."