World Leaders Bid Farewell To The Man Who Helped Unite Europe

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World leaders, past and present have bid farewell to Helmut Kohl, the German chancellor who helped unite Europe.

Mr Kohl, who died aged 87 on 16 June, was remembered as both a German and European patriot, who deserved “a place of honour in the European pantheon”.

The former chancellor becomes the first person to be honoured with an official memorial event by the European Union in the French city of Strasbourg.

Among the many dignitaries present at the memorial was former US president Bill Clinton, who thanked Kohl for giving “us the chance to be involved in something bigger than ourselves”.

“Bigger than our terms of office, bigger than our fleeting careers,” he said.

“Because all of us, sooner or later, will be in a coffin like that,” he added.

“And the only gift we can leave behind, is a better future for our children, and the freedom to do their own choices. Including their own mistakes.”

The 70-year-old politician said his wife, Hillary Clinton, said he loved Mr Kohl “because he was the only person with a bigger appetite for food than I have”.

“The 20th century in Europe really began on his watch,” Mr Clinton added.

The former chancellor lead Germany from 1982 to 1998, and was widely seen as having overcome the fears of the country’s neighbours, putting an end to the division between East and West and allowing Germany to be rebuilt as a nation by assuring Europe his country would no longer aspire to dominate others.

French president Emmanuel Macron noted that it was former French president Francois Mitterrand and Mr Kohl who were able to “overcome the terrible memories of their generation”.

“Without Helmut Kohl the lives of millions of people who lived behind the Wall until 1990 would have taken a completely different course,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Including mine,” she added, having been brought up in communist East Germany.
“Thank you for the opportunities you gave me.”

The memorial event was followed by Mr Kohl’s coffin, draped with the flag of the EU, being taken to the German city of Speyer for a requiem Mass and military honours.
He was buried in a private ceremony at a cemetery in the city.

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