EU executive seeks official commemoration of Germany's Kohl

EU executive seeks official commemoration of Germany's Kohl

The American Jewish Committee on Saturday said former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who passed away Friday at 87 years old, "was always a champion of European unity and the transatlantic alliance".

Chancellor Kohl was a friend to the United States during a transformative period for Germany and Europe as a whole.

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl looks on during his official birthday reception at the Pfalzbau in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on May 5, 2010.

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent condolences to Germany's president and to Merkel and cited him as saying Kohl "will be remembered in Russia as a resolute supporter of friendly relations between our countries".

"Helmut Kohl was the most important European statesman since World War II", said Bill Clinton in 2011, adding that Kohl answered the big questions of his time "correctly for Germany, correctly for Europe, correctly for the United States, correctly for the future of the world". He served longer than Konrad Adenauer, West Germany's first post-World War II chancellor and his political idol.

In July 1990, Kohl had managed to reach an agreement with Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev that an enlarged West Germany would be able to stay a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in return for footing the bill for withdrawing Soviet troops and resettling them at home, a deal which spelled the end of the cold war and guaranteed Kohl's place in history.

Kohl was married for 41 years to Hannelore Renner, an interpreter of English and French who stood firmly but discreetly by his side. In 1988, Kohl and former French president François Mitterrand received the Charlemagne Prize.

"A life has ended and the person who lived it will go down in history", said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Kohl led Germany in the closing months of 1989, during the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War that had gripped the world since 1945.

Juncker said that "without Helmut Kohl, the euro would not exist".

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