Israel President: Vaclav Havel's Death a Loss for the Entire World

Shimon Peres euglogizes deceased Czech dissident Vaclav Havel, calling him a personal friend and a friend of Israel; says Havel's voice will continue to be heard.

"[The death of Vaclav Havel] is a loss for the entire world, the Czech people, Western civilization and human freedom," President Shimon Peres said on Sunday.

Peres said that Havel was both his personal friend and a friend of Israel.

"I always listened to his voice, which always spoke in almost a whisper, but with internal conviction, unusual honesty, that penetrated and unified hearts," Peres said. "Havel was on one hand steadfast in his opinions but he had a pleasant manner. His voice will still be heard even if he himself is no longer with us."

Havel, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 75, was a dissident playwright who wove theater into politics to peacefully bring down communism in Czechoslovakia and become a hero of the epic struggle that ended the Cold War.

Havel was his country's first democratically elected president after the nonviolent "Velvet Revolution" that ended four decades of repression by a regime he ridiculed as "Absurdistan."

As president, he oversaw the country's bumpy transition to democracy and a free-market economy, as well its peaceful 1993 breakup into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

"There was only one Vaclav Havel," Peres said. "There was none like him. He was a lonely voice of freedom and a voice of unity for the suffering people of the world. He was many things at once: writer, philosopher king and president."

Paying tribute to Havel, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement, “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.”