News / Europe

Czechs, World Leaders Bid Farewell to Vaclav Havel

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (2nd R) and Romanian President Traian Basescu (R) attend the funeral ceremony for the late former President Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle's St. Vitus Cathedral December 23, 2011
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (2nd R) and Romanian President Traian Basescu (R) attend the funeral ceremony for the late former President Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle's St. Vitus Cathedral December 23, 2011

World leaders and the people of the Czech Republic have paid their final respects to former president Vaclav Havel at a state funeral in Prague, ending a week of honoring the dissident playwright and anti-communist icon.

The 75-year old former Czech leader died in his sleep of respiratory problems on Sunday.

Bells and sirens rang out during a moment of silence in memory of the country's first democratically elected president.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron were among the world leaders who attended the funeral mass for Mr. Havel at the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral. Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Czech-born former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright also paid tribute.

In a message read at Friday's mass, Pope Benedict praised Mr. Havel, recalling "how courageously he defended human rights at a time when they were systematically denied."

Since Monday, tens of thousands of Czechs have remembered their former president, filing past his casket inside a church in central Prague.

Mr. Havel took office in 1989, after leading what has come to be known as the "Velvet Revolution" that ended four decades of communist rule. He oversaw Czechoslovakia's transition to a free-market economy and democracy, as well as its peaceful 1993 split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Slovakia has declared Friday a national day of mourning in his honor.

Mr. Havel has been applauded by several European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who described him as a "great European" who fought for freedom on the continent.

Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992, and leader of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs