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Czech President Havel wraps up visit to Switzerland

Moritz Leuenberger (left) poses in Lucerne with Vaclav Havel (centre) and the mayor of Lucerne, Urs Studer Keystone

The president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, has concluded his two-day visit to Switzerland with a trip to the Rütli meadow on Lake Lucerne.

The meadow, traditionally regarded as the birthplace of Switzerland, was the backdrop for speeches by both Havel and the Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger.

Havel, who has frequently declared himself “fascinated by places linked directly to the history of different countries”, specifically asked for a visit to the meadow to be included in his two-day itinerary.

Leuenberger admitted he would have preferred to show the Czech president “my own view of Switzerland, which is to say more modern and urban places”.

But Leuenberger paid tribute to his Czech guest, remarking that the opportunity to re-visit the meadow had given him “a new vision” of the Rütli as a symbol for all those “who are seeking freedom and universal peace”.

Earlier on Friday, Havel and his wife, Dagmar Havlova, were received at the city hall in Lausanne by local dignitaries. Havel later unveiled a statue by the Czech sculptor, Pavel Krbalek, and took part in a conference on federalism and direct democracy.

Havel is a renowned writer and former dissident. He was elected president of Czechoslovakia after the collapse of the Communist regime in 1989. He became the first president of the newly founded Czech Republic in 1993.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR