Helmut Kohl: a Great European Leader

This week Europe mourns the passing of Helmut Kohl, one of the greatest statesman and leaders in Europe that my generation has known.

He served as Chancellor of Germany for 16 years, from 1982 to 1998, and as President of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany from 1973 to 1998.

I was saddened and moved by his death, and deeply respectful of his achievements. I could not help but feel that the pages of history were rustling loudly with this sad news and that they have now turned definitively to open a new chapter in Europe’s future development.

As a leader, Helmut Kohl had towered above his peers as a man with vision, principle and commitment; he must be credited in the future annals of history with the achievement of reunifying Germany and of forging a powerful alliance with President Mitterand of France to secure the implementation of the single currency of the Euro and Europe’s Single Market.

He was truly a political colossus with immense foresight and vision who has given our continent as his legacy a powerful basis in which to build our European future together. He was a great man, a leader and a statesman. My heart goes out to his family and friends who mourn his passing; by way of solace, I urge them to remain true to the ideals and principles for which he stood, and to reflect on the awesome legacy of his political achievements, of which they can rightly be immensely proud.

Europe has suffered from a power vacuum and a lack of either leadership or vision since the end of the Kohl-Mitterand partnership for many years now. However recent political events suggest that the foundations of a strong and democratic union in Europe, which were nurtured during the Kohl and Mitterand era, are at last finding new supporters in the fruitful soil of the youth of Europe today, who seem to have rediscovered the importance of politics and are now keen to express their say in how Europe’s affairs are managed.

This weekend in France we saw the sweeping dismissal of the tired thinking of the far right and the Republicans paving the way for a new era under the ruling majority government of the Liberal En Marche party. Great things are promised for the future partnership between President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel, who according to the latest opinion polls is on track to win the federal elections due to be held in Germany on 24th September.

Helmut Kohl would indeed approve of this new vigour that is being injected into Franco-German co-operation. But let us honour the man properly and recognise his greatness appropriately. It is a most fitting tribute to the former German Chancellor that a European act of state is planned to be adopted by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on 1 July. This honour was announced by the European Commission on 18 June, and it will be the first European Act of State in the 60 year history of the European Union. Nobody is more deserving of this honour than Helmut Kohl.