Speech of President Emil Constantinescu at the ceremony of awarding the Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, Oslo, May 2013
Speaking about Vaclav Havel is not an easy task. Or it may be both easy and hard. Beyond what is said or written on the Internet, a dissident, politician, writer, statesman, Havel was a democrat devoted without any hesitations to the cause of human rights. But Vaclav Havel was even more than that. He became, even since his life a symbol: firstly the very image of the freedom of creation imprisoned by the communist dictatorship, then the one of eliberating this force and, ultimately, of promoting another kind of politics, based on moral values.
I have met Vaclav Havel first in the free Europe, as a model, and then I have met him personally when i was rector of the University of Bucharest and awarded his the title Doctor Honoris Causa, and then I knew him as statesman with whom I shared the same civic ideals and, last, but not least, he was a friend of mine.
The one who wrote about the power of those without power would reach a future situation of a person to accomplish a fair management of the power. The one who had spoken about non-political politics should have learned to apply sometimes the most pragmatic politics, using all political means, when the context and especially the country’s interest required that.
He had also learned what life means and I always evoke the title of his speech held at the Bucharest University when he received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa: "Illusions and ideals."
Havel was saying: most people have illusions, not ideals. Because for the ideals you have to fight for yourself, and sometimes to die for them; when talking about illusions, things are easier, you transfer them to others, you say you are disappointed and take no responsibility about it.
Havel understood one thing that he made very clear and very instructively for us today: without a wide allocation of moral values and obligations, neither the law, nor a democratic government, nor even the market economy will function correctly. In my opinon, this is the key to the proper functioning of a society and therefore I believe that Vaclav Havel, who is most often seen in the West as a prophet of the anti-totalitarian fight, will be more and more regarded as a mentor and as a prophet of the post-totalitarian time. If we read today what Havel wrote 20 years ago, things are is very up-to-date and this is a lesson also for the Arab Spring and for all the countries seeking to discover democracy, with its risks and hardships people encounter in their way to adapt to a system that not only offers freedom, as they understand very quickly,but also require responsibility.
Havel never gave up on two things: the utterance of truth and utter sincerity. In his plays, Vaclav Havel uses ordinary words in ordinary arrangements for that in the end to burst into a profound idea, but which only bursts if the reader or viewer is capable of understanding it.
In his political speeches, whether circumstances were sometimes tedious, other times difficult, Vaclav Havel made memorable formulations; which will remain above even probably the phrases in his plays. And these wordings are a truly exceptional code for those who want to learn democracy and, not least, living in dignity.
It is hard for me to believe that Vaclav Havel left us, even though I have helplessly witnessed his hard fight with a merciless disease and then I even walked him on his last way.
Just a few days he had left us, we have signed two Appeals made by international civic organisations, where we both found our values, the Appeals were initiated by Vaclav Havel to free political detainees from different parts of the world. Now, these Appeals have become in a way his Last Will.
A great poet of my country Mihai Eminescu, considered that mourning is the shadow of those left and cast upon us the one that remains. Vaclav Havel leaves us in the cone of light of high ideals for those who ceaselessly fought, making no compromise
It is not easy to live under the clear sky of these ideals , but any try to live in this way represents the real homage that we can bring to the big dispensary.