Why Europe should not forget Helmut Kohl

Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl died on Friday, aged 87. During his time as chancellor Germany was reunited, five countries joined the EU and the decision was taken to introduce the euro. Kohl's vision of European unity remains vital, commentators from various countries stress.

Open/close all quotes
Le Monde (FR) /

Former chancellor's views still valid today

Helmut Kohl's death is a reminder of how important Europe is, Le Monde writes:

“Believing one can defend Germany's greatness while at the same time promoting Europe's interests; working on the assumption that these two objectives can only be achieved through a deep relationship of trust with France: these convictions, which were those of Helmut Kohl, take on a particular significance at the moment of his death. As the Brexit negotiations get underway, France elects a president who promises to 'reform' Europe, and Chancellor Merkel is urging the Old Continent to 'take its fate in its own hands' since it can no longer rely on its American ally due to Trump's unpredictability, the death of Helmut Kohl reminds us of an era whose lesson we would do well to remember.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Merkel no longer takes Kohl's vision seriously

With Helmut Kohl's death a voice that continually warned against Germany playing a dominant role in Europe has been silenced, Lidové noviny writes:

“For him, Germany's reunification was inseparably linked to European unity. As the historian Heinz Gollwitzer said, for the first time in history Germany offered the world a universal idea. This was very different to Bismarck's 'place in the sun'. Was Kohl successful with his vision? Is Germany more European, or is Europe more German? Kohl was preoccupied by this question right to the end. Chancellor Merkel, by contrast, is less worried about other people's fears regarding a strong Germany. The number of 'enemies' is growing (the US, Brexit-Britain, Poland, Hungary...). It seems as if a German Europe is closer to reality than a European Germany. It's too bad Kohl will no longer be able to comment on that.”