Photo Exhibition in Brussels Shows Havel’s Meetings with Clinton, Rolling Stones, and Others

Vaclav Havel, Klaus Schwab, HRH the Prince of Wales at the 1992 World Economic Forum. Photo Credit: World Economic Forum, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Brussels, Aug 31 (CTK correspondent) – European Parliament chair Roberta Metsola opened an exhibition in the Brussels seat of the European Parliament yesterday showing the meetings of former Czech president Vaclav Havel with a number of statesmen and prominent artists.

Metsola said the exhibition evoked Havel’s ideas about responsibility, now a very urgent issue given the complicated situation faced by present-day Europe over the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the economic crisis.

These are strong pictures showing Havel’s conviction that politics is a force for the good, and a service to the people, she added.

Metsola said Havel’s quotation “Europe As A Task” was chosen by the Czech government as the motto for its current EU presidency.

The 23 photos in the exhibition were shot by Czech-Belgian photographer Jiri Jiru, who worked as Havel’s photographer between 1993 and 2000.

At the opening of the exhibition, along with Metsola, he stopped at the photo capturing Havel with then-Czech prime minister and political rival Vaclav Klaus in a restaurant on Brussels’s Grand Place.

“I want people to stop and think about each of the photos,” said Jiru, explaining how he chose the photos for the exhibition.

While one can see the tension between Klaus and Havel, in Jiru’s favourite snapshot, of Havel with U.S. President Bill Clinton and Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal in the Prague pub U Zlateho tygra (Golden Tiger), the mood is obviously very relaxed.

The exhibition also includes Havel’s photos with the queens of Britain and the Netherlands, former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright (who was of Czech descent), and Czech pop singer Iveta Bartosova.

“Personally, I love the one with the Rolling Stones, as this provokes in me very strong feelings,” said MEP Tomas Zdechovsky, who organised the exhibition. “My parents had a record by the Stones and we played it secretly as children. At that time none of us expected to ever see them in the Czech Republic.” 

“For me, it is a tremendous symbol of freedom and democracy,” he added.

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