Václav Havel, the Czech Republic’s first president after the Velvet Revolution against communist rule, has died at the age of 75. As president, he presided over Czechoslovakia’s transition to democracy and a free-market economy. He oversaw its peaceful 1993 split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Havel first came to international fame as a dissident playwright in the 1970s through his involvement with the human rights manifesto Charter 77.
.. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter: “Vaclav Havel was one of the greatest Europeans of our age. His voice for freedom paved (the) way for a Europe whole and free.”
In the early 1990′s I was once trying to sell a district-heating and power plant to be built in Ostrava in the then Czechoslavakia. Eventually the project did not go forward with the split in 1993 into Slovakia and the Czech Republic but I had the opportunity (and the privilege) to once present the project to President Vaclav Havel. He was a playwright by profession but his questions were pointed and precise. I found him remarkably sharp and capable in grasping the finer points in technical and economic arguments.
The Charter 77 declaration is here: Charter 77 declaration
SNA: Havel passed away on Sunday after a protracted respiratory disease, just after turning 75 October 5.
“It was Havel who invited me to the emerging Civic Forum,” said Klaus in an official address Sunday, referring to the platform that led then-Czechoslovakia to democratization away from the communist regime.
The two Vaclavs went on to become arch-rivals in their visions for the development of the Czech Republic.