Germany hails Havel as 'trailblazer' for European unity

18th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle hailed Sunday the late former Czech president Vaclav Havel as "the soul of the Czech revolution" who helped surmount Europe's Cold War division.

Westerwelle said in a tribute to Havel after his death at the age of 75 was announced in Prague that Germany was "mourning with the Czech people".

"Vaclav Havel was a trailblazer for European reunification," he said.

"He was the soul of the Czech revolution. Without him and his courageous words, the democratic awakening in Central and Eastern Europe would have been unthinkable."

Westerwelle called Havel "a great champion for democracy and freedom".

Havel, who as a dissident playwright became a hero of the Velvet Revolution that won independence from Soviet rule in 1989, died Sunday after a long illness, his office said.

He served as president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992 and of the successor Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.

© 2011 AFP

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