The “bench of Vaclav Havel” in Athens – In memory of the great leader of the Czech Republic.

The Greek capital is among the cities that honor with a symbolic work the memory of the great leader of the Czech Republic.

The “Wenceslas Havel’s bench”, a public work of art, inspired by the personality of the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1992) and first President of the Czech Republic, has been adorning Athens for a few days now.

This is the international work of the famous Czech architect Bořek Šípek, which since 2013 has been installed in 40 cities around the world, including Washington, Dublin, Barcelona, ​​Prague, Lisbon, Milan, Venice and Brussels. With this monument, the Municipality of Athens honors the work of the politician and writer Vaclav Havel, who from 1993 to 2003 served as President of the Czech Republic and who in 1989 played a leading role in the “Velvet Revolution”.

The “Wenceslas Havel bench”, which consists of a table between a tree trunk and two chairs, was created by the Czech architect with a symbolic purpose: To emphasize the importance of sitting at the same table and discussing despite differences. In Athens, it was placed in a symbolic part of the city, the Freedom Park.

The unveiling of the project took place in a special ceremony by the Mayor of Athens Costas Bakoyannis, in the presence of the widow of the Czech President Mr. Dagmar Havlova, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Greece Mr. Jakub Karfik, the Director of the Czech Republic Mr. of Kamil Ziegler, Executive Chairman of OPAP, who undertook the sponsorship of the project.

In a short but moving speech, Ms. Havlova, President of the Dagmar and Vaclav Havel Foundation, expressed her pleasure to visit Athens for the inauguration of the project, and said:

“My husband had a great deal of respect for the international community and saw relations between the countries as a necessary means of upholding the values ​​for which he lived and fought. The “Havel bench” was designed precisely to honor his legacy. It invites people to sit down, think, talk while listening to each other, exchange views and look for answers together. ” She added: “I am proud that the city of Athens and the whole of Greece confirm once again their commitment to these values. I hope this place serves its purpose well, so that citizens of all generations and visitors to Athens can find a moment at this point to pause and reflect on the highest goals and values ​​- those that endure the most time from individual and human existence. Let me recall Havel’s words: “A personal life without a historical horizon is pure fiction, a deception and ultimately a lie.”

For his part, the Mayor of Athens, Costas Bakoyannis, spoke about Vaclav Havel with warm words, emphasizing that:

This year marks ten years since the death of the hero and leader of the “Velvet Revolution” that inspired generations and generations. The man who with peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire of totalitarianism, the man who proved in practice that morality defeats weapons. But also of a man who has always had close and special ties with our country “. Referring to the project that started in 2013 on the initiative of the Czech Ambassador to the US, he noted: “We have chosen to symbolically place this monument in a place that for us Athenians has a special symbolism: new Museum of Eleftherios Venizelos and at the Exhibition Center of the Municipality of Athens.

This work is inspired by Havel’s personality and democratic ideals. It has a symbolic character because it is a table where we can all sit and exchange views. This is very important for us, because Athens is the birthplace of Democracy and Democracy is based on dialogue, based on mutual respect and mutual understanding. As someone once said, even if we disagree does not mean that we can not coexist. “Especially in our time, when unfortunately a toxic ‘cloud’ has covered the public debate, it is even more important to realize the timeless value of conciliation, of consensus even if self-criticism and compromise are required.” After thanking OPAP for the kind sponsorship, he closed his speech with a phrase by Havel, which he said he had read at an early age and was etched in his memory: “How did Havel define hope? He said that hope is the ability to work for the good, for the right, not because it has a chance of success. “Let’s keep that.”

December marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Vaclav Havel and his memory will be honored in our country with events, which will emphasize the special relationship of the Czech politician with Greece. It is recalled that in 1993, as President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel received the “Onassis Prize” in Athens.