Kohl Mourns Closest European Ally
Bonn, Imre Karacs, The Independent (London, England)
A sombre Helmut Kohl donned a black tie for the hastily arranged television appearance shortly after the news was flashed from Paris. "I mourn a good friend," the Chancellor said in a trembling voice.
No one could doubt the sentiments were genuine. Despite coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum, Francois Mitterrand and Mr Kohl developed an intense personal relationship over the 13 years they tried to hold the reins of Europe in tandem.
Crucially, Mitterrand came to Chancellor Kohl's aid in 1983, backing his plan for new Nato missiles in West Germany despite protests from Bonn's Social Democrats. He stood hand-in-hand with him the next year at the memorial to the First World War battle of Verdun. Mr Kohl did not forget: during the campaign to ratify the Maastricht treaty he made an appearance on French television to back his friend the President.
The two bons viveurs seemed to revel in each other's company, staging Franco-German summits at intervals that were almost indecently frequent.
It was at these meetings that the Franco-German axis truly came into being, propelling the continent towards closer integration. The two men largely created the climate for the Maastricht treaty, and by establishing the Franco-German corps in 1990, raised defence co-operation to a new level.
They were convinced that only by locking their countries into a united Europe could they banish the prospect of another war between the two nations. …
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Publication information: Article title: Kohl Mourns Closest European Ally. Contributors: Bonn, Imre Karacs - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 9, 1996. Page number: 8. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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