Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) attended a ceremony in Strasbourg on Saturday to commemorate former German chancellor Helmut Kohl. In a press release, Ratas said that Kohl’s legacy needed to be carried on, as his decisiveness and vision was what Europe needed today as well.
“The chancellor was a true European. The Estonian people will forever remember his invaluable contribution to the restoration of our independence and our journey to the European Union. It is the duty of all of us to carry on Kohl’s work and his vision of a united Europe,” Ratas was quoted in the press release.
“Looking back at the legacy of Helmut Kohl, it is clear how important decisiveness and unity in politics are even in the darkest and most difficult of times. Kohl proved that by thinking big and making brave decisions, the impossible can become possible. This is also worth remembering in the politics of the European Union today.”
The end of the German Democratic Republic and the Soviet Union and German reunification fell into Kohl’s time in office, which lasted from 1982 to 1998. Kohl was instrumental in the diplomacy and politics that eventually led to the treaty of Maastricht in 1992, which paved the way for the European Union’s single currency.
A united Europe was Kohl’s great vision and goal. At the ceremony in Strasbourg on Saturday, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who said he was speaking not in his official function, but as a long-time friend of Kohl’s, reminisced how the chancellor had been moved to tears when the eastward extension of the EU was decided.
The view of Kohl in his later years was shaped by a party financing scandal and his refusal to give up large-scale contributors to his party, the CDU. The scandal eventually led to a falling-out between Kohl and his successor as party leader, present-day Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Kohl’s death has also brought his personal circumstances to the attention of the media again, including the difficult relationship with his two sons, and their accusations against his second wife and widow, Maike Kohl-Richter, of taking over his legacy.
After the European ceremony in Strasbourg, a funeral service was held for Kohl at the Speyer cathedral in Germany.
Kohl passed away at 87 on June 16, 2017.
Editor: Dario Cavegn