French President Emmanuel Macron says Europe owes a lot to Helmut Kohl

French President Emmanuel Macron says Europe owes a lot to Helmut Kohl

The ruling Christian Democratic Union, which Kohl led for a quarter century, announced Kohl's death via Twitter with #RIP, #HelmutKohl, saying only "We mourn".

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush said he and his wife Barbara "mourn the loss of a true friend of freedom, and the man I consider one of the greatest leaders in post-war Europe".

Schulz said Friday that Kohl, under whom Merkel served as a cabinet minister, was a "great European" who had forged a historic path for Germany and Europe.

Germany's Bild newspaper reported Mr Kohl died at his home in Ludwigshafen, the Rhineland city where he was born in April 1930.

"Throughout our endeavours, Helmut was a rock - both steady and strong".

For most of the 1990s, Kohl led the newly reunited nation, including becoming the heart of the European Union. "History continues to prove that he delivered", he said.

Former protegee Angela Merkel lauded Kohl's contribution to German and European integration in 2012, on the 30th anniversary of his becoming chancellor, declaring that Europeans were "united in our luck" thanks to Kohl's efforts.

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.

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The view was echoed by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom I pay tribute to the role he played in helping to end the Cold War and reunify Germany.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has ordered flags at EU institutions to be flown at half-mast.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (L) and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl exchange fountain pens after signing a contract in Bonn, Germany, in November 1990.

Merkel, who grew up in the communist German Democratic Republic, said that thanks to him, she, "like millions of other people, could leave a life of GDR dictatorship and enter into a life of freedom". Yeltsin and Kohl had become friends, she said.

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. With courage and perseverance, the cardinal emphasized, the chancellor, combined with visionary force had the "great ability to negotiate German unity".

He praised former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for her honesty, even as he recalled a confrontation with her just days after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 2008, shortly after his fall, Mr. Kohl announced his intention to marry a newer companion, Maike Richter, 35 years his junior and a former economic adviser in the chancellery.

Elation over German reunification ebbed amid the harsh realities of its cost and the difficulties of integrating east and west, but Kohl's coalition squeaked by again in 1994.

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