“The unified voice of Central Europe will be important if we want to help Ukraine prevail,” said Pavel. At the end of January, he clearly won the election with around 58 percent against the populist ex-Prime Minister Andrej Babis. Pavel has now succeeded the previous head of state, Milos Zeman, whose second term expired on Wednesday.

The role of the president is largely representative in the Czech Republic. However, the head of state formally appoints the government and nominates the governor of the central bank and the constitutional judges. Also, the President is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Pavel’s military career began in his youth in communist Czechoslovakia. He joined the Communist Party and trained as a military secret service agent – his opponents still accuse him of both of these things, even though he represents a decidedly pro-Western course.

The former paratrooper headed NATO’s military committee from 2015 to 2018, before that he was chief of staff in the Czech army. During the election campaign, he campaigned to “restore order” and promised to support Ukraine’s bid for EU membership.