Saturday, 19 April 2014

Aide: Havel would be embarrassed at airport bearing his name

8 October 2012

Prague, Oct 5 (CTK) - The late Vaclav Havel would be definitely embarrassed at seeing the Prague airport renamed after him, since at the close of his life he believed that he was no longer important for the Czech Republic, Havel's former spokesman and close aide Ladislav Spacek told CTK Friday.

The Prague international airport, known as the Ruzyne airport according to Prague's western neighbourhood where it is situated, was ceremonially renamed to the Vaclav Havel Airport Friday, on the 76th birth anniversary of Havel, the late anti-communist dissident and playwright-turned-president.

"Vaclav Havel would be definitely embarrassed at seeing what happened [in connection with him] after his death. He was passing away with a feeling of not being important for Czech society any longer. When the huge wave of mourning, love and respect appeared across the society after [his death last December], I think he would be surprised by it," Spacek told CTK during the ceremony Friday.

He said Havel was not a fan of big ceremonies. "The opposite is true. He was a shy, modest and humble man," he said.

Nonetheless, it is good that the biggest Czech airport bears Havel's name, Spacek added.

At the ceremony, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who headed the office of Havel as the first Czechoslovak post-communist president in the early 1990s, recalled that it was Havel who opened the chance for Czechs to travel abroad. That is why the Prague airport has been renamed after him quite rightfully, Schwarzenberg said.

The Czech Republic should keep to Havel's legacy, he continued.

"Sometimes it seems to me that we are closing ourselves again and starting to concentrate exclusively on our internal affairs, unfortunately," Schwarzenberg said.

Havel's widow Dagmar Havlova said she considers the airport's renaming a concrete and palpable step in appreciation of Havel's contribution to freedom and democracy in the Czech Republic.

She thanked to the idea's initiator, film maker Fero Fenic, and all those who backed and promoted the plan and helped implement it.

Havel (1936-2011) was Czechoslovak president from late 1989 to 1992 and the first president of the independent Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.

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