Friday, 18 April 2014

Plaque commemorating Havel unveiled

18 December 2012

Prague, Dec 17 (CTK) - A plaque in memory of the late former Czech president Vaclav Havel was unveiled near the monument to U.S. president Woodrow Wilson on the Freedom Pavement in Prague centre yesterday, on the eve of the first anniversary of Havel's death.

The memorial plaque was funded by 258 Czech and Slovak expatriates living in the United States.

It was unveiled by Foreign Minister and Havel's friend Karel Schwarzenberg and former defence minister and dissident Alexandr Vondra.

As soon as the weather allows it, the Havel plaque will be set in the pavement next to the statue of Wilson (1913-21).

Havel (1936-2011), playwright, thinker and former dissident, was the last Czechoslovak and the first Czech president (in office 1989-2003). He died on December 18, 2011, aged 75 years.

Tens of people attended the event organised by the American Friends of the Czech Republic (AFOCR) association yesterday to highlight Havel's merits and his fame in the world.

"Havel's influence on the world was much bigger than many local people anticipated sometimes," Schwarzenberg said.

Instead of sentimental memories, "we should rather focus on what Havel was fighting for," he added.

"When commemorating Vaclav Havel yesterday, we feel how much we miss him," said Martin Palous, from the Vaclav Havel Library.

Havel's legacy must be taken over without unnecessary idealisation and nonsensical misinterpretation, he noted.

Havel took part in the ceremony in October 2001 when the Wilson memorial was unveiled in the Vrchlicky Park outside Prague's Main Railway Station, called after Wilson in the past.

It returned to the site 70 years after the original bronze statue was pulled down by German occupiers in 1941.

The American Friends of the Czech Republic is a U.S. independent non-profit organisation that aims at strengthening relations between the United States and the Czech Republic.

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