Envoys pay tribute to Germany’s Kohl
SPEYER, Germany — Germany bid farewell Saturday to Helmut Kohl, the former chancellor who steered his country toward reunification in 1990 and whose tireless efforts to ensure peace and stability in Europe shape the continent to this day.
Hundreds of dignitaries attended a requiem Mass at Speyer Cathedral in Kohl’s home region of Rhineland-Palatinate in southwest Germany.
Earlier in the day, past and present leaders from around the world paid tribute to Kohl at the European Parliament’s seat in the French city of Strasbourg.
Kohl, who died June 16 at the age of 87, is the first person to be honored with an official memorial event by the European Union.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the ceremony in Strasbourg, close to the border with Germany, was Kohl’s choice.
“Helmut Kohl was a German patriot but at the same time a European patriot,” said Juncker, recalling how Kohl had wept tears of joy when the bloc agreed in December 1997 to begin accepting members from the formerly Communist countries in Eastern Europe.
Kohl spearheaded the creation of the euro currency, which is now used by 19 nations.
Soldiers carry the coffin of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl after Saturday’s requiem Mass in Speyer Cathedral in Germany.