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Young Czechs interested in Havel’s legacy, policy

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Prague, Aug 31 (CTK) – A new wave of people’s interest in the ideas and policy of former Czech president Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) has been registered by the staff of the Prague-seated Vaclav Havel Library (KVH), its director Michael Zantovsky has told CTK.

Now that the era of optimism of the 1990s has ended following the economic crisis and problems such as terrorism and mass migration have arisen, many people have no idea of what path the society should take to cope with the problems, Zantovsky, former aid to Havel and later diplomat, said.

“Mainly young people want to know what Havel represented, what were the values he leaned on, and they ask why they can find no one among the present politicians who could show them the way forwards,” Zantovsky said.

According to him, there are two causes why Havel’s ideas find no big response in the present society and why he has no successor among politicians.

One of them is common political envy, jealousy and rivalry that occur everywhere and that try hard to belittle the weight of the legacy of outstanding personalities so that they do not overshadow the scene, Zantovsky said, adding that this mentality seems to be more widespread in Czech society than elsewhere.

The other cause is the changing times. After the post-1989 euphoria dwindled away, roughly in 1993 when the Czechoslovak federation split, the society’s priorities ceased to focus on the coping with the past in moral terms and on a vision of a society with a relatively high level of morals and decency, as represented by Vaclav Havel, said Zantovsky, who wrote a comprehensive biography of Havel a couple of years ago.

Vaclav Havel as a politician leaning on moral premises started to be bothersome for many. For them, he became an unpleasant mentor, Zantovsky said.

This is also why many started ridiculing Havel and his followers as the people who permanently promote bothersome moral principles and thereby prevent others from seeking their own benefit, he said.

Nevertheless, more and more people show interest in the programmes in the KVH, which take part almost daily and highlight a variety of issues including human rights, politics, literature and theatre, Zantovsky said.

He said the regular discussion meetings the KVH organises in towns across the Czech Republic prove people’s new interest in Havel’s legacy.

The opinion that only Prague intellectuals are interested in Havel is nothing but a myth, he said.

Havel, former leading dissident and playwright, was the first Czechoslovak post-communist president from 1989 to 1992 and the first head of the independent Czech Republic in 1993-2003. He died on December 18, 2011.

The Vaclav Havel Library was established still during Havel’s life more than ten years ago.

Zantovsky said the library keeps and promotes Havel’s legacy and it should be a place of meetings and discussions not only of Havel’s but also the present time.

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