Petr Pavel, a former Czech army chief and high-level NATO official, took the oath of office to start his five-year term as Czech President on Thursday.
Pavel beat populist former prime minister Andrej Babis in a January election on pledges to firmly anchor the central European country in the European Union and NATO, a turn from predecessor Milos Zeman who had tried to boost relations with Russia and China.
Pavel, a social liberal who campaigned as an independent and gained the backing of the centre-right government, has conveyed a message of unity after the divisive Zeman, who retired after 10 years in office on Wednesday.
Czech presidents do not have many day-to-day duties but they pick prime ministers and central bank heads, have a say in foreign policy, are powerful opinion makers, and can push the government on policies.
Pavel has fully supported continued aid for Ukraine in its defence against Russia's invasion. He has backed keeping the central European country of 10.5 million firmly in the European Union and NATO military alliance. A career soldier, Pavel joined the army in Communist times, was decorated with a French military cross for valour during peacekeeping in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and later rose to lead the Czech general staff and become chairman of NATO's military committee for three years before retiring in 2018.
Delivered by Czech Trade team Canada.