New York: Architect of German reunification after the end of the Cold War, Helmut Kohl, passed away on Friday. He was 87. Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union party announced the news with a memorial message, reports CNN.
Former US President Bill Clinton — who honoured Kohl with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999 — mourned the loss of his friend, saying his “visionary leadership prepared Germany and all of Europe for the 21st century.”
“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,” Clinton said in a statement.
Kohl, who served as chancellor for 16 years — from 1982 to 1998 — and was Germany’s longest-serving leader since 1945, worked assiduously for the reunification of West and East Germany, who were separated post-World War II. Kohl became chancellor of West Germany in 1982 and served until 1990, then became chancellor of Germany after reunification. After the Soviet Union relinquished control of Eastern Europe, Kohl launched his push for reunification, with constant reassurances to Western leaders that a united Germany posed no threat.
“I will never forget walking with him through the Brandenburg Gate in 1994 for a large rally on the eastern side, and seeing genuine hope in the eyes of tens of thousands of young people. I knew at that moment that Helmut Kohl was the man who could help them realize their dreams. History continues to prove that he delivered,” Clinton said.