Jiří Dienstbier remembered by fellow politicians, presidents

Czech politicians have paid tribute to Senator Jiří Dienstbier, who died in on Saturday at the age of 73. The internet news website idnes, has reported that while many were aware Mr Dienstbier had been ill for some time, they were nevertheless caught off guard by his rapid decline. Among the first to react on Saturday were former president Václav Havel, current Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and the acting head of the Social Democratic Party, Bohuslav Sobotka. All praised Mr Dienstbier as a major force in Czech politics, with Mssrs. Havel and Schwarzenberg saying he had been a close friend.

Prime Minister Petr Nečas said he held the senator in high regard for his actions under the former regime and for setting the course for a new foreign policy after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. President Václav Klaus called him a key figure in the events of November 1989 and said he respected him despite their differences on numerous issues. The president also praised Mr Dienstbier as a true gentleman and said the Czech political scene would be poorer without him.

Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle offered written condolences, saying he had been badly shaken by the news of Mr Dienstbier’s death. In his words, the Czech Republic and Europe had lost a great democrat as well as a dedicated defender of human rights.

Author: Jan Velinger