Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Higgins in tribute to Vaclav Havel

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has died at the age of 75

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who has died at the age of 75

Mr Higgins was in touch Mr Havel in recent weeks.

"Through the inspiration of Vaclav's words, the courage of his dissidence and the integrity of his leadership, Czechoslovakia successfully transitioned from an authoritarian state to a free democracy at the heart of Europe," he said.

"He also ensured that the later separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia was achieved peacefully and without compromising democratic values."

Mr Higgins said even after he stepped down as president, the moral influence of Mr Havel's life and words continued to inspire those around the world who struggle for the protection of human rights, care for the maintenance of democratic values and the indispensability of human dignity.

"However, his later reflections on the role of the artist and intellectual in the public world are among the best of what has been written in the search for a moral connection between politics, economic and social life," he added.

Mr Havel died on Sunday morning at his weekend house in the northern Czech Republic.

As president, Mr Havel oversaw Czechoslovakia's bumpy transition to democracy and a free-market economy, as well its peaceful 1993 break-up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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