Netanyahu attends funeral of late German chancellor Helmut Kohl

02 July, 2017, 02:01 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • European ceremony honours German titan Kohl

Earlier in the day, past and present leaders from around the world paid tribute to Kohl at the European Parliament's seat in the French city of Strasbourg.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the ceremony in Strasbourg, close to the border with Germany, was Kohl's own choice. Kohl "embodied an epoch" and his "friendly, personal relation with France became a hallmark for relations between the European Union partners, said Merkel".

Kohl's coffin is then due to be transported to the town of Speyer on the river Rhine, where he would be buried in a private ceremony for family and friends.

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl sits next to Christian Democrat party (CDU) leader Angela Merkel during celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of German unification in Berlin on September 27, 2000.

European leaders paid tribute to Helmut Kohl, vowing to live up to the German's unflagging efforts to work for European unity at a time when many voters across the continent have expressed their doubts.

Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, said Mr Kohl deserved "a place of honour in the European pantheon" for unhesitatingly extending the hand of friendship to fledgling democracies in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Iron Curtain.

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'I find the latest developments not worthy of my father, nor of Germany and Europe, ' said Walter, 53, who with his brother Peter are from Kohl's first marriage.

Preparations for Kohl's funeral proved controversial after the politician's widow refused a German state funeral and had to be prevented from inviting Hungary's Victor Orban, to give a speech at the Strasbourg ceremony.

Those decisions were made by Kohl-Richter, 34 years her husband's junior, whom he married at age 78.

Speakers at the ceremony include the current German and French leaders Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, respectively, as well as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and former Spanish President Felipe González.

Kohl was Germany's leader from 1982 to 1998 and guided the divided state into a unified whole.

Kohl is widely regarded as having skillfully overcome the fears of Germany's neighbors when an end to the country's decades-long division into a communist east and a democratic west first became a realistic possibility in the late 1980s. Mitterrand was cool initially but it was "all fire and flame" for Kohl after a visit to Paris, she said.

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