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Minister Karel Schwarzenberg paying tribute to President Havel

Address by Minister Karel Schwarzenberg at the Funeral service on December 23, 2011

My dear Dáša,
Mr. President,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Your Eminence,
Your Excellency,
Father Archbishop,
Your Excellencies,
and all of you who have come to say goodbye to Václav Havel,

There is a thousand people here in this ancient cathedral, and yet I miss many. Not only those who have departed before Václav Havel – I also miss those who are not known to diplomatic protocol. The citizens who stood by him under the previous regime, as well as those who supported his efforts in the years of freedom that followed. The students who were the backbone of the Civic Forum in its early days, who worked nights without expecting to be thanked, and then just went back to their studies. The citizens in Brno, Ostrava or České Budějovice who trusted him and who have built up democracy in our country.

And, as he also was a Czechoslovak president, I miss friends from Košice, Bratislava, Dunajská Streda, Žilina, those who stayed at his side when he was vilified, when he was no longer a president, but still a man who made us at least think about our failings and about things that were wrong in our country. We now thank him for his words and writings that, from time to time, made us think. We thank him today, perhaps too late – but better late than never.

Those who worked for Václav Havel called him “the chief” among themselves - and it was only natural that he was “the chief” also to the people around the rock music festival in Trutnov. Indeed he was a chief by nature, with or without a presidential or other office. His presence alone was enough.

Václav Havel has departed this world or, as we Czechs say, “he now sees God´s truth”. What does this really mean?  In old Czech language, “truth” was not just the way things stood, it was also justice and supreme law. That is the meaning of the Hussite motto “God´s truth will prevail”.

Václav Havel of course knew that the word “truth” can have a very narrow sense. He also knew that truth, seen in a narrow self-centred way as the one and only truth, is the cause of discord and intolerance. That is why he took “Truth and Love” as his motto, as only love can make us listen to the truth of another person, to the truth of others. Such love teaches us to be humble, and Václav Havel had more humility that we all do. This is the deep meaning of the motto “Truth and Love”, a motto for which he was sometimes ridiculed and so much criticized. And yet, it expresses the very substance of human struggle. We all know that this struggle will go on as long as mankind exists. We know that we must never give up the fight for love and truth. I am sure that all of us who had the honour and the pleasure to work with Václav Havel, at Prague Castle or elsewhere, all the friends who cannot be here today, will never cease that struggle.

Dear President Havel, we will go on fighting for truth and love. We will never give up. You can rely on us.