International figures hail 'great' German ex-leader Schmidt

International figures hail 'great' German ex-leader Schmidt

10th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande led international leaders in paying tribute to former West German leader Helmut Schmidt, who died on Tuesday aged 96.

Here are some of the key reactions to Schmidt's death:

- German Chancellor Angela Merkel -

Merkel said Schmidt, chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982, was a "a political institution" and "an authority whose advice and judgment meant something to me". She said Germans respected him for his "no-nonsense language and his natural aura of authority".

- French President Francois Hollande -

Francois Hollande said Schmidt was a "great European" and a statesman who "always illuminated the debate".

"He was a man who, until his final breath, knew how to give a speech and especially to tell Germans that they had a role to play ... that it was within Europe that they should act," he added.

- Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte -

Rutte hailed Schmidt as a "great statesman that was already a historic figure while alive."

"Helmut Schmidt experienced modern German history first-hand. He was a man of deed and spoke with great conviction. He remained an authoritative figure even after his work as chancellor. His death is a great loss for Germany," he said.

- Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann -

Faymann said the former leader "left his mark not only on Germany, but on all of Europe", adding that Schmidt was a "key architect to a peaceful and united Europe".

- Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi -

Renzi said Schmidt's death was a "day of mourning for European reformism".

- European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker -

Juncker hailed Schmidt as a "friend" who would be "sorely missed."

"For almost a century, the history of this continent forged him and made of him a committed European," said Juncker in a statement.

"He strove to bring our continent closer together with a passion equalled by few, in part because he always understood that we must stick together if we wish to play a substantial role on the world stage."

- The World Jewish Congress -

The New York-based World Jewish Congress (WJC) said Schmidt, the first German ever to be honoured by the WJC, will be "greatly missed".

"After experiencing the horrors of the Nazi era and World War II as a soldier, he became an advocate of peace and stability in the world," the WJC said.

- German President Joachim Gauck -

Germany's president Joachim Gauck described Schmidt as "a man of action ... but above all a democrat, a man who knew that freedom also means responsibility and who took on this responsibility."

"He loved freedom because he had experienced war, he protected in times of threats what was close to him and all our hearts; our freedom, our democracy and peace."

- Former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing -

Giscard d'Estaing, whose time as French president coincided with Schmidt's rule, said he was the "best chancellor Germany had had since Konrad Adenauer".

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© 2015 AFP

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