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Tributes as Germany's Helmut Kohl dies, aged 87

18 June 2017

"Helmut Kohl was a great European and a very good friend", Juncker said, adding that the former was an objective observation while the latter was a very personal statement.

Kohl's estrangement from his party lasted until 2002, when its new leaders invited him to speak at a convention as they sought to regain power.

"He was deeply convinced that Europe was our destiny", Steinmeier said.

"Voters do not like Kohl, but they trust him", Rita Suessmuth, a former speaker of parliament, once said.

Kohl died Friday at 87.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on a diplomatic visit to Rome when the death of Kohl, a Roman Catholic, was made public.

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He entrenched Germany in a wider Europe, in the hope of achieving a unity and peace that the continent had never known before.

French President Emmanuel Macron says former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was "one of the great men of Europe and the free world" and that he "forged the unity of Europe" with former French President Francois Mitterrand. Kohl's successor in the chancellery, Gerhard Schröder, praised Kohl as a German patriot.

He became chancellor of West Germany in 1982 and oversaw its reunification with the East.

"For me, that says everything", he said. Yeltsin and Kohl had become friends, she said.

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.

"Germany's chancellor had a personal, friendly, relation with Russia's first president - Boris Nikolayevich highly praised those warm feelings of Mr. Kohl towards Russian Federation", she noted. This required great political strength and courage - both of which qualities Helmut had in abundance.

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Kohl's legacy includes the common euro currency - now used by 19 nations - that bound Europe more closely together than ever before.

Tributes poured in for the man United States former president George H.W. Bush hailed as "one of the greatest" postwar leaders, and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker called the "very essence of Europe".

Netanyahu said in a statement Friday that "Kohl was the leader who united Germany with a determined and steady hand".

He says "among the State of Israel's greatest friends, he was completely dedicated to its security".

Kvirikashvili further noted that the Georgian people remember well how Kohl had supported Georgia in its heaviest times, when the country was making its first steps to return to its European family after regaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1990s.

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