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Helmut Kohl, father of German reunification, dies

25 June 2017

As chancellor of a unified Germany, Kohl reassured its neighbors by definitively relinquishing claims on their territories that had historically had ethnically German populations, and that Nazi Germany had claimed.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili also offered his condolences to the German people. I was honestly amazed by his wisdom, his ability to take thought-out, far-sighted decisions even in the most complex of situations.

Russian President Vadimir Putin smiles as he meets with former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, in the residence of Novo-Ogaryovo, just outside Moscow, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006.

Still, the "blooming landscapes" that Kohl promised East German voters during reunification were slow to come after the collapse of its communist economy, and massive aid to the east pushed up German government debt.

A politician most of his adult life, he was chancellor of the German Federal Republic for 16 years, from 1982 to 1998, longer than any German leader since Bismarck.

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. Kohl's new coalition with the FDP and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) party won the 1983 West German elections.

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Germany was divided into West and East Germany after World War Two.

President Steinmeier said Kohl was an "exceptional politician" with a "strong character".

Germany's longest-serving chancellor since World War II lived long enough to see the European unity he championed see hard times after he left office.

Gerhard Schroeder, Kohl's successor as chancellor, called him a "great patriot and European ..."

"Like millions of others, I was able to go from a life under a dictatorship to a life of freedom", she said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the death of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl means that Israel has lost one of its "greatest friends".

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"He played an instrumental role in the peaceful reunification of his country, within a year of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and helped set a course for the historic process of Europe's political and economic integration", said Guterres in a statement. Initially, Kohl and Gorbachev saw the solution to the German issue differently.

In a statement Friday, Macron's office said: "A reformer, a visionary and a unifier, Helmut Kohl marked our collective history".

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.

A state funeral is expected to be held in the former chancellor's home region of Rhineland-Palatinate, officials said Friday.

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". "The world has benefited from his vision and efforts".

"I know Washington was quite surprised by them. History continues to prove that he delivered".

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