Tributes are being paid to former German leader Helmut Kohl, the architect of German reunification, who has died at the age of 87.
Germany’s longest serving post-war Chancellor from 1982 to 1998, Kohl was a driving force behind the introduction of the euro currency, convincing sceptical Germans to give up their cherished deutschmark.
He died on Friday morning at his home in Ludwigshafen, in southwestern Germany, according to the Bild publication.
“We mourn,” Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) tweeted with a picture of the former chancellor.
An imposing figure who formed a close relationship with French President Francois Mitterrand in pushing for closer European integration, Kohl had been frail and in a wheelchair since suffering a bad fall in 2008.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Kohl ‘the very essence of Europe’.
Helmut's death hurts me deeply. My mentor, my friend, the very essence of Europe, he will be greatly, greatly missed https://t.co/ikJFdzK9m0— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) 16 juin 2017
European Council President Donald Tusk also paid tribute.
I will always remember Helmut Kohl. A friend and a statesman who helped reunite Europe.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) 16 juin 2017
At home, Kohl is above all celebrated as the father of German reunification, which he achieved after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall despite resistance from partners such as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Shortly after leaving office, Kohl’s reputation was tarnished by a financing scandal in his centre-right party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), now led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Kohl mentored Merkel early in her career, appointing her to her first ministerial post.