World Leaders Pay Respects to Vaclav Havel

World | December 23, 2011, Friday // 17:01|  views

Fmr. U.S. President Clinton and his wife Hillary, pictured alongside Fmr. U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright who was born in Prague. Photo by CNN

The state funeral of former Czech President Vaclav Havel is taking place in the capital, Prague, attended by leaders from around the world, including Bulgaria, BBC reported.

Sirens sounded across the city to herald the start of the ceremony.

A bell then tolled at St Vitus Cathedral, as mourners in the building and those filling the square outside observed a moment of silence.

Havel, who helped lead the 1989 overthrow of communism in Eastern Europe, died on Sunday aged 75.

The Archbishop of Prague read out a tribute from Pope Benedict, praising Mr Havel's courageous defence of human rights and his visionary leadership in creating a new democratic system.

Bulgaria's first democratically elected President Zhelyu Zhelev, his successor Petar Stoyanov and the current Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov are Bulgaria's representatives at the funeral.

The former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright - who was herself born in Prague - spoke at the ceremony, along with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and current Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

She said Vaclav Havel had "brought light to the places of deepest darkness".

"He was one of the most respected men of the world, but was never satisfied that he had done everything he could have done," she said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are among the mourners.

The presidents of France and Germany are also attending, along with UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Poland's own dissident-turned-president, Lech Walesa, is there, along with current leaders from across Eastern Europe.

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Tags: Lech Walesa, Nikolay Mladenov, Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague, St Vitus Cathedral, Madeleine Albright, David Cameron, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Nikolay Mladenov, Foreign Minister, Petar Stoyanov, 1992, 1991, Bulgarian President, Zhelyu Zhelev, Czech President, anti-communism, communism, Charter 77, Vaclav Havel, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, dissident, communist, Eastern Europe, Karel Schwarzenberg.


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