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Helmut Kohl, architect of unified Germany, dead at 87

19 June 2017

At home, Kohl is celebrated above all as the father of German reunification, which he achieved after the November 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall despite resistance from partners such as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Kohl, an imposing figure and German chancellor between 1982 and 1998, formed a close relationship with French President François Mitterrand in pushing for closer European integration.

From a human perspective, I can only say that my meetings with Helmut Kohl have always been marked by mutual respect - both at the time when I was the prime minister of the GDR, and later as we were colleagues in the Bundestag. In a 2002 interview with journalist Jens Peter Paul, Kohl recalled how French President Francois Mitterrand and others urged him to lend his backing to the idea of a common currency for European states; that currency, the euro is now used by numerous member states of the European Union since 1999.

Kohl was born in Ludwigshafen on April 3, 1930.

Kohl, leader of the center-right Christian Democrats, served as chancellor for 16 years, from 1982-98.

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He easily won the 1990 federal elections amid the euphoria but had a reduced majority in 1994.

"It was real luck that at that hard time leading nations were headed by statesmen with a sense of responsibility, adamant about defending the interests of their countries but also able to consider the interests of others, able to overcome the barrier of prevailing suspicion about partnership and mutual trust", Gorbachev said Friday in a statement released by his foundation.

Immediately after securing the deal Kohl praised the diplomacy of Charles Haughey and Gerry Collins for opening the door to what he described as "the dream of all Germans". These relationships became invaluable when East Germany began to unexpectedly collapse in 1989: Kohl was able to address concerns of worldwide parties on all sides while also on the domestic intricacies of reunification. In a 1986 interview, Kohl was quoted as comparing Gorbachev's public relations skills with those of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. The Soviet Union protested.

Clinton said: "He was called upon to answer some of the most monumental questions of his time, and in answering them correctly he made possible the reunification of a strong, prosperous Germany and the creation of the European Union". In the message he wrote, "the Church in Germany is grateful for the Christian testimony of Helmut Kohl". Kohl resigned as his party's honorary chairman in 2000.

There was an inquiry regarding the party's funding, but Helmut Kohl refused to reveal the names of the donors.

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Even Germany's Left party, the spiritual successor to the East German communists, said that Friday's focus should be on "mourning a great European". Kohl, however, argued successfully that the wiretaps used by the Stasi to spy on him were illegal.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal, extends his condolences to Kohl's family and the government and the people of Germany.

Kohl was survived by his wife Maike Richter and his two children Walter Kohl and Peter Kohl.

In July 2001, Hannelore killed herself at age 68 in despair over an incurable allergy to light.

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