Friday, December 23, 2011

News 12.23.2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Friday, December 23rd, 2011

By: Pavla Horakova

* Heads of state and government from around the world have attended the
state funeral of the late Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel in Prague's
St Vitus Cathedral.

* Officials and friends have paid tribute to the deceased Czech leader
in their speeches after the funeral service.

* Thousands of people have paid their last respects to Vaclav Havel at
Prague Castle.

* The Czech Republic's former federal partner Slovakia is also
observing a day of mourning on Friday.

* A public memorial concert for Vaclav Havel at Prague's Lucerna Palace
will mark the end of the three-day period of mourning observed in the
Czech Republic.

Czech and foreign officials gather in Prague's St Vitus Cathedral for
Havel funeral

Heads of state and government from around the world gathered in
Prague's St Vitus Cathedral on Friday to attend the state funeral of
the late Czech ex-president Vaclav Havel. The funeral mass served by
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka started at noon with a minute of silence
which was also observed throughout the country. The Czech national
anthem was played and 21 gun salutes were fired to conclude the
ceremony which lasted for over an hour. Some 40 countries had sent
representatives to the funeral, among them French President Nicolas
Sarkozy, German President Christian Wulff, US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron and others.

Prague Airport receives 27 charter flights carrying funeral guests

Twenty seven charter flights landed at Prague Airport on Friday morning
carrying heads of state and other officials and guests who arrived in
the city for the state funeral of Vaclav Havel. The US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, her husband, former US President Bill Clinton
and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in Prague at
ten am followed by the Polish delegation including former President
Lech Walesa, and later the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the
French actor Alain Delon, Mr Havel's friend of many years. The Prague
Ruzyne airport also saw the arrival of the President of the European
Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and the British Prime Minister David
Cameron and former Prime Minister John Major.

Officials and friends pay tribute to deceased president in speeches

Officials and friends paid tribute to the deceased president in their
speeches following the mass. In a sermon, Archbishop Dominik Duka said
Vaclav Havel was a person able to raise hope among Czechs and thus
unite them. In his speech, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said that
although many things came to an end with the departure of Vaclav Havel,
his message that freedom was worth sacrifices would live on. Czech
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg vowed to strive for truth and love
the way Mr Havel had done. The former US secretary of state Madeleine
Albright, who is of Czech descent and was a close friend of Mr.
Havel's, spoke in her native Czech. She said for Mr Havel conscience
was like a muscle which needed to be worked and exercised in the face
of adversity. A condolence letter from Pope Benedict XVI was read out
before the mass by the former Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic
Cardinal Giovanni Coppa. In his letter the Pope paid tribute to Mr.
Havel's visionary leadership after the fall of the communist regime.

Havel to be buried at Vinohrady cemetery

The family and friends of the deceased ex-president attended a private
ceremony at Prague's Strasnice crematorium on Friday afternoon. The
remains of the late Czech leader will be laid to rest in the family
tomb at the nearby Vinohrady cemetery in Prague which is the final
resting place of Vaclav Havel's first wife Olga and the late
president's parents.

Minute of silence observed at Friday noon

At noon on Friday bells tolled and sirens were sounded across the Czech
Republic in memory of the departed president and people observed a
minute of silence in his honour. In many towns and cities public
transport came to a halt and people gathered in historically
significant places and on town squares to light a candle and pay the
late president a final tribute.

Thousands pay last respects to Vaclav Havel

Crowds of people gathered around the Prague Castle complex on Friday
morning to watch the live television broadcast from St. Vitus Cathedral
on large screens. An estimated 35,000 people queued for hours during
the past couple of days to pay their last respects to the late
statesman whose coffin lay in state in Prague Castle's Vladislav Hall.
Some ten thousand also joined the funeral procession through Prague on
Wednesday morning.

Slovakia observes day of mourning

The Czech Republic's former federal partner Slovakia is also observing
a day of mourning on Friday. Slovakia's President Ivan Gasparovic and
Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, along with former President Rudolf
Schuster and ex-Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, attended the funeral
ceremony in Prague. Flags are flying at half mast in Slovakia and a
special mass will be held in St. Martin's cathedral in the capital
Bratislava on Friday evening in honour of the last president of

Suu Kyi expresses sadness at death Vaclav Havel

The Burmese opposition politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung
San Suu Kyi has expressed deep sadness at the death of Vaclav Havel and
thanked him for the long-lasting support he had provided to her in her
fight against the military regime in her country. Ms Suu Kyi's message
was related by the Burma Center in Prague. In a statement the centre
said that Mr Havel had been a long-term supporter of Suu Kyi and the
pro-democracy movement in Burma and that using his influence he had
helped to raise awareness of the human rights situation in Burma in
Europe and the whole world.

Memorial concert in Prague to mark end of period of mourning

A public memorial concert for Vaclav Havel at Prague's Lucerna Palace,
organized by his brother Ivan will mark the end of the three-day period
of mourning observed in the Czech Republic. The rock group The Plastic
People of the Universe, which was closely associated with Vaclav Havel,
will be playing along with other groups of the dissident music scene,
Garage, Hudba Praha and the Velvet Underground Revival. The organizers
have also promised to show clips from documentary films about the
former president and play tributes from friends and celebrities. The
memorial concert will be shown on a big screen on Wenceslas Square and
live on Czech TV.

Poll: Most Czechs regard Havel as good president

According to a poll carried out by the SC&C agency, nine out of ten
Czechs regard Vaclav Havel's terms in office positively. Twenty-three
percent of those polled said Mr. Havel had been a good president;
twelve percent described him as excellent. Ten percent hold a negative
view of his presidency. The poll suggests thirty-six percent of Czechs
believe that without Mr. Havel the Czech Republic would have never
joined NATO. Almost 70 percent of those surveyed said they believed the
first Czech President should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


Christmas Eve should see overcast skies and rain with daytime highs
reaching four degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Czechs bid last farewell to Vaclav Havel

Church bells tolled across the Czech Republic at noon and the nation
held a minute of silence in memory of the hero of the Velvet Revolution
and the country's first post-communist president Vaclav Havel. All eyes
were on Prague's St. Vitus' Cathedral where a funeral mass for the late
president attracted hundreds of mourners from at home and abroad.

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