Thursday 21 September 2017

German parliament remembers former chancellor Helmut Kohl

German parliament president Norbert Lammert delivers a speech to commemorate late former chancellor Helmut Kohl (Markus Schreiber/AP)
German parliament president Norbert Lammert delivers a speech to commemorate late former chancellor Helmut Kohl (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Germany's parliament has honoured former chancellor Helmut Kohl at a memorial, remembering him as the architect of German reunification but also as someone who was not without flaws.

Norbert Lammert, the parliament speaker, said that because of Mr Kohl "the peaceful unity of our country and a free and pacified Europe is today a reality".

Mr Kohl, who spearheaded German reunification in 1990 and was an architect of the euro, died on Friday aged 87.

Remembering the party financing scandal that embroiled Mr Kohl after he left office in 1998, Mr Lammert said the former chancellor himself "acknowledged some mistakes".

Mr Lammert told Chancellor Angela Merkel, president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and others that "Mr Kohl's path was sometimes painful, sometimes caused by himself and sometimes caused by others".

Mr Kohl is being honoured with an official European memorial event, a first for the European Union, at the European Parliament on July 1.

A requiem mass will then be held at the cathedral in Speyer, in Mr Kohl's home region, where the former leader will also be buried.

Unusually, however, there will not be a state funeral in Germany beyond the official European event - apparently at Mr Kohl's wish.

Mr Lammert, a member of Mr Kohl's party, remarked in his speech to parliament that the location and format in which Mr Kohl is honoured for his political work in Germany is "with all due respect, not just a family matter".

Mr Kohl's death has highlighted rifts in the ex-chancellor's family.

He had fallen out with his two sons and one of them, Walter Kohl, said he and two of the former leader's grandchildren were turned away from Mr Kohl's home when he tried to visit on Wednesday.

Stephan Holthoff-Pfoertner - a lawyer for Maike Kohl-Richter, Mr Kohl's widow and second wife - accused the younger Kohl of ignoring earlier efforts to organise contact and deliberately setting up the scene by turning up unannounced. Walter Kohl denied that.

AP

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