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Italy pays tribute to Helmut Kohl

Mattarella, Gentiloni, Alfano, Prodi recall late chancellor

(ANSA) - Rome, June 16 - Italy on Friday paid tribute to former German chancellor Helmut Kohl who has died at 87, with President Sergio Mattarella, Premier Paolo Gentiloni, Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and former European Commission president Romano Prodi all remembering a great European who presided over German reunification.
    Mattarella wrote to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying "I have learned with deep sorrow of the passing of Helmut Kohl, a political personality of extraordinary significance in the recent history of Germany and the whole of Europe".
    He said "his passing deprives Germany of a great personality and Europe of one of its founding fathers".
    Mattarella went on: "He who was, rightly, described as 'the Chancellor of Reunification', worked with far-sightedness and determination, in years marked by deep and epochal changes in world equilibria, to give back unity to his country in the framework of the great project of European integration.
    "As an authentic statesman, he knew how to combine pragmatism and a capacity of vision, furnishing a courageous contribution not only tot he fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, but also to overcoming the dramatic divisions which, for decades, had torn Europe".
    Gentiloni, for his part, tweeted: "Honour to the memory of Chancellor Kohl. "Italy remembers him as the protagonist of German reunification and the fall of the European Wall".
    Alfano tweeted that "his ideals must continue to inspire young generations who believe in #European unity".
    Former two-time centre-left Italian premier and ex-European Commission chief Prodi said that "we have lost a giant of politics, a giant of a united Europe".
    "Today with the death of Helmut Kohl a reference of extraordinary greatness passes. He was the father of the reunification of Germany, author of the fall of the Berlin Wall and resolute constructor of the European Union.
    "I shared with him the desire for a united Europe that would let all nations live in peace with common goals".
    Prodi went on: "Our relations were always good and friendly even when we found ourselves on different positions and our meetings never stopped, up till the last time when he voiced to me the idea that a new generation in Europe was now ready to take up and give new impetus to the dream of the founding fathers. I keep this memory which is also a hope.
    "My thoughts go out to his family and those who loved him".


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