Leuenberger pays tribute to Vaclav Havel

Former Swiss cabinet minister Moritz Leuenberger has paid tribute to the Czech dissident playwright turned president, Vaclav Havel, who died on Sunday.

This content was published on December 19, 2011 - 08:37
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Interviewed in Monday’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper, Leuenberger said he admired Havel for his convinced stance against the former totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia and the fact that he had stayed in the country and resisted the communist leadership.

“He went to prison for his beliefs. In so doing he contributed to the fall of the iron curtain. His moral authority allowed him later to help create the architecture of a new Europe and open up his country. He brought a whole new dimension to politics in Europe.”

Leuenberger met Havel several times, and as Swiss president received him on a state visit in 2001. They shared a love of the theatre.

Havel, a leading member of the Czechoslovak dissident movement Charter 77, played a key role in the demonstrations that led to the downfall of the Czechoslovak communist government in 1989. He became the country’s first president and also presided over the break-up of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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