Reactions from world leaders, ex-leaders and politicians came pouring in following news of the death of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, the architect of German reunification, who died on Friday at age 87.
Former U.S. President George HW Bush described Kohl as “a true friend of freedom.
“The man I consider one of the greatest leaders in post-War Europe.”
Bush had worked closely with Kohl as president from 1989-1993 during the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification.
“Working closely with my very good friend to help achieve a peaceful end to the Cold War and the unification of Germany within NATO will remain one of the great joys of my life.
“Throughout our endeavours, Helmut was a rock, both steady and strong.
“We mourn his loss today, even as we know his remarkable life will inspire future generations of leaders to dare and achieve greatly,” Bush said in a statement.
He prayed for the Almighty God to bless Kohl and the freedom he helped to secure.
Bill Clinton, another former U.S. president described that Kohl was called upon to answer some of the most monumental questions of his time.
“In answering them correctly he made possible the reunification of a strong, prosperous Germany and the creation of the European Union,” he said.
Clinton was one of Kohl’s political contemporaries, having served as U.S. president from 1993-2001.
Clinton recalled a rally the leaders had attended together in the former East Berlin in 1994 and the “genuine hope in the eyes of tens of thousands of young people.”
“I knew at that moment that Helmut Kohl was the man who could help them realize their dreams. History continues to prove that he delivered,” he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she received the news of predecessor Kohl’s death en route to Rome on Friday and later changed her plans.
She had been due to make a public appearance at the German ambassador’s residence in Rome around 1700 GMT.
She is in Rome for a private audience with Pope Francis, which is scheduled to take place around 0800 GMT on Saturday.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Siebert described Kohl as the architect of German unification and Franco-German friendship: with Helmut Kohl’s passing, we lose a very great European.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he was a truly great German and above all a truly great European has died.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Kohl was the embodiment of a united Germany in a united Europe.
“When the Berlin Wall fell, he rose to the occasion, a true European.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “a tribute to the memory of chancellor Kohl.
“Italy remembers him as a protagonist of German reunification and of the fall of Europe’s Wall.”
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said “among the State of Israel’s greatest friends, he was completely dedicated to its security.
“Kohl was the leader who united Germany with a determined and steady hand.
“ His admiration for Israel and Zionism found expression in my many meetings with him and in his resolute stand in favour of Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “I will always remember Helmut Kohl.
“A friend and a statesman who helped reunite Europe.”
EU Council President Donald Tusk “Helmut’s death hurts me deeply.
“My mentor, my friend, the very essence of Europe, he will be greatly, greatly missed.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker “it’s clear for all to see Kohl’s historic role in the reunification of Germany just a year after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the historic path he took Europe on by shepherding so well the reunification of Germany.”
UN Chief Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said “with deep mourning I learn of the death of Helmut Kohl, an outstanding German politician, one of the initiators of German reunification.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko said “Kohl was a political giant, a European visionary and true statesman. United Germany and shaped the EU of today.”
Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt also mourned the death of Kohl.