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Former German chancellor Kohl dies at 87
20 June 2017, 09:45 | Erica Roy
Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl passes away
He wanted and knew how to show his Christian convictions in Europe. With courage and perseverance, the cardinal emphasized, the chancellor, combined with visionary force had the "great ability to negotiate German unity".
As a leader for Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Kohl was seen as the mentor for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He refused to reveal where the money had come from, saying he had given the donors his "Ehrenwort", or word of honour, not to disclose their names.
Former U.S. President George HW Bush described Kohl as "a true friend of freedom".
He entrenched Germany in a wider Europe, in the hope of achieving a unity and peace that the continent had never known before.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also mourned Kohl as a "personal friend" and praised his historical role in uniting Germany, according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Together with his French ally President Francois Mitterrand, he was responsible for the introduction of the euro. "History continues to prove that he delivered", Clinton said.
Macron added that Europe's open borders, shared euro currency and the beginnings of collective European defense "owe a lot to Helmut Kohl".
Flowers lie in front of the Kohl's home in Oggersheim, Germany on Friday.
Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili also offered his condolences to the German people.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev underlined Kohl s role in ending the Cold War, noting that "he was without doubt an exceptional personality who left his mark on German, European and global history".
In another battle after his departure from power, Kohl fought and won a lengthy legal fight to prevent the release of most of the files held on him by East Germany's secret police.
With his diplomacy, resolve, and readiness to commit huge sums to the ending of his country's division, Mr. Kohl was remembered by many as a giant of epochal times that redrew Europe's political architecture, dismantled the minefields and watchtowers of the Iron Curtain, and replaced the eyeball-to-eyeball armed confrontation between East and West with an enduring, if often challenged, coexistence between former sworn foes.
Gorbachev, 86, paid special tribute to the way Kohl led Germany through the process of reunification, which was "not without risk".
Kohl linked his dedication to a united Europe to his roots in a part of Germany close to France and his boyhood memories of wartime.
He said "among the State of Israel's greatest friends, he was completely dedicated to its security".
Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, said Kohl was an "outstanding person" whose impact on world history would stand the test of time. The German flag flys at half-mast at the Reichstag in Berlin.
"When a new spirit began to sweep through Eastern Europe in the 1980s, when freedom was won in Poland, when fearless people in Leipzig, East Berlin and elsewhere in East Germany staged a peaceful revolution, Helmut Kohl was the right person at the right time", said Merkel.
Their suspicion was hardly surprising in the light of the second World War. but Mitterand cited an old joke, "I like Germany so much I'd prefer to have two of them", and Thatcher was reported to have said "we have to stop the German bully".
"Working closely with my very good friend to help achieve a peaceful end to the Cold War and the unification of Germany within North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will remain one of the great joys of my life", added the former USA president. "Throughout our endeavors, Helmut was a rock - both steady and strong", Bush said Friday. She said her own life had changed with Kohl's guidance which she was extremely grateful to.
He was a proud European and was at the forefront of closer integration through what became the European Union.
Mr Kohl died yesterday morning in Ludwigshafen, the home city he had rarely left since a stroke in 2008.
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