Slovakia will hold a day of state mourning on Friday, December 23, between 8:00 and 18:00 in honour of Václav Havel, Czechoslovakia's last head of state, based on a decision taken by the Slovak government on December 19. TASR wrote that this will be the seventh day of state mourning declared in Slovakia since its independence.
Havel became a symbol of the Velvet Revolution and the fundamental political changes in Czechoslovakia that brought the downfall of communism in 1989. He went on to become the Czechoslovak head of state (1989-92) and Czech president (1993-2003). Czech media reported that Havel, exhausted from working on his recent film debut as a director and from a respiratory illness, began cancelling his engagements and appeared frail at the premiere of the film, entitled 'Departure'. He died at the age of 75 at his cottage in Hrádeček pri Trutnove on Sunday morning, December 18.
Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič and Prime Minister Iveta Radičová will be part of the government delegation attending the state funeral of Havel, said Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic.
Regarding the state mourning announced earlier in the day Lipšic said: " I think there should be a tradition whereby former presidents, and Václav Havel was also our president, should be honoured by a day of national mourning."
Lipšic further commented that Václav Havel's Czech nationality should not be viewed as a problem as for three "crucial years (1990-92) he was the president of both Czechs and Slovaks and a symbol of the Velvet Revolution."
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
20. Dec 2011 at 14:00