International press responds to the loss of a great European leader


Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The Guardian in the UK looks at President Havel in the European context. Their editorial describes the president as “a politician whose vision and wit embraced not just the art of the possible but of the impossible too”. All the states of Europe, the paper writes “have to be open to the new, the brave and the difficult without abandoning the moral, the wise and the treasured. In that sense, Vaclav Havel's Europe belongs not to the past but the future.”

The New York Times obituary says that Havel “came to personify the soul of the Czech nation. His moral authority and his moving use of the Czech language cast him as the dominant figure during Prague street demonstrations in 1989 and as the chief behind-the-scenes negotiator who brought about the peaceful transfer of power known as the Velvet Revolution”.

The American Christian Science Monitor remembers the “Czech president, playwright, and peacenik” as “one of the world's preeminent anti-communist revolutionaries”. Writing for the Huffington Post, economic journalist Barry D. Wood calls Václav Havel a “hero of our time”. TIME magazine’s online newsfeed offers clips from its own reporting on Havel since 1968, and says “rarely do politics and art find such a tempered combination as in Vaclav Havel”

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The Slovak daily SME is full of remembrances of the former president, recalling his sense of fair play his displayed towards Slovakia, the literary quality of his writings, his poignant speech to the American Congress, and his ability to win the respect, if not the agreement, of everyone. "Everyone knew it would happen eventually,” the paper writes, “many felt it coming, but to speak [of the death of Václav Havel] makes every word weigh a tonne".

The Spanish El País leads with the headline “Václav Havel, the Hero of Prague, has died", while the headline of the German Tageszeitung reads “The Conscience of Europe is Dead”.

Al-Jazeera: “The leader of a small country but a giant on the international stage, a statesman equal to any of his contemporaries, Václav Havel’s standing and influence stemmed not from his leadership of armies or command of political institutions, but from his commitment to the freedom of the individual, and to the power of ideas and human rights.”