Obama hails Havel's 'moral leadership'
Washington - US President Barack Obama on Sunday praised late former Czech president Vaclav Havel as a leader of great vision and moral courage who "shook the foundations of an empire" with his peaceful resistance to communist rule.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing today [Sunday] of Vaclav Havel, a playwright and prisoner of conscience who became president of Czechoslovakia and of the Czech Republic," he said in a statement.
"Having encountered many setbacks, Havel lived with a spirit of hope, which he defined as 'the ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed'.
"His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon," Obama said, as tributes for Havel poured in to the Czech Republic from around the world.
Havel, who was the hero of the 1989 Velvet Revolution against communist rule and became his country's first post-independence president, died on Sunday aged 75.
"He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world," Obama added in his eulogy to the playwright and long-time dissident.
"He also embodied the aspirations of half a continent that had been cut off by the Iron Curtain, and helped unleash tides of history that led to a united and democratic Europe.