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European leaders pay homage to Helmut Kohl


European leaders pay homage to Helmut Kohl

Tributes have been paid to Helmut Kohl, German’s former chancellor and the man widely credited as the father of Germany’s reunification.

He died at his home in Ludwigshafen on Friday aged 87.

Kohl appointed Angela Merkel to her first ministerial job and she said he changed many people’s lives forever.

“Helmut Kohl was a great German and a great European. In fact, Helmut Kohl’s legacy has determined the two most important tasks of German politics over the last decades: the reunification of our country, and the unification of Europe. Helmut Kohl understood that both things are inseparable,” said Merkel.

Sentiments shared by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who described Kohl as his mentor, his friend and the very essence of Europe: “Helmut Kohl was historian and therefore had foresight and insight others did not have to such an extent. He convinced everyone that the new Germany was different from the Germany of the 30’s and the start of the 40’s. He was someone who brought things together in many respects.”

Germany’s longest serving post-war leader, Kohl was a driving force behind the introduction of the single currency. He also formed an unlikely personal bond with French socialist president Francois Mitterand which allowed the pair to push for closer European integration.

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