Friday, December 23, 2011

Vaclav Havel funeral: World leaders pay respects

Czechs and world leaders have been bidding farewell to former Czech President Vaclav Havel at a state funeral in Prague.
The current and former US secretaries of state were joined by leaders from France, Britain and many ex-communist countries in the cathedral of St Vitus.
Outside, after church bells rang out across the capital, thousands thronged to follow the service.
Havel, who helped lead the 1989 overthrow of communism, died aged 75.
He passed away on Sunday after a long respiratory illness, health issues that dated back to his time in prison.
'Visionary leadership'
The Archbishop of Prague read out a tribute from Pope Benedict, praising Mr Havel's courageous defence of human rights and his visionary leadership in creating a new democratic system.
"Remembering how courageously Mr Havel defended human rights at a time when these were systematically denied to the people of your country, and paying tribute to his visionary leadership... I give thanks to God for the freedom that the people of the Czech Republic now enjoy," Pope Benedict said in his statement.
The former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright - who was herself born in Prague - spoke at the ceremony, along with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and current Czech President Vaclav Klaus.
She said Vaclav Havel had "brought light to the places of deepest darkness".
"He was one of the most respected men of the world, but was never satisfied that he had done everything he could have done," she said, adding that he would terribly missed but never forgotten.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, were among mourners.
The presidents of France and Germany also attended, along with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Poland's own dissident-turned-president, Lech Walesa and(...)More.

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