Sunday, June 18, 2017

Foreign Digest: Helmet Kohl, Rest in Peace; French Parliamentary Elections

Helmet Kohl, Rest in Peace
            Helmet Kohl, the former Chancellor of Germany and the Father of German Reunification, died last week at age of 87 at Ludwigshafen, Germany, where he had been born in 1930.

            Kohl joined the conservative Christian Democratic Union as a teenager after the Second World War and began to rise in its ranks, eventually becoming state and later federal chairman by 1973, a position he held until the end of his chancellorship.  In the meantime, after earning a degree in history and political science at Heidelberg University, he earned a doctorate in political science in 1958 from the same school.  Kohl then worked in management in the private sector.

            Kohl was elected to the Rhineland-Palatinate state assembly in 1959 and the following year to the Ludwigshafen municipal council.  In 1969, he was elected governor.  Kohl served in that office until 1976.

            Kohl was the CDU nominee for Chancellor in 1976, but was not elected.  He led the opposition for six years until he was elected Chancellor in 1982 by the German Parliament after the center-left ruling coalition lost a confidence vote.  Kohl was elected Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) the following year and served nearly four full terms until 1998.

            As Chancellor, Kohl strengthened Franco-German relations as the cornerstone of European integration and supported United States President Ronald Reagan’s assertive anti-Soviet policies during the Cold War.  After the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, he helped negotiate the terms of the rapid, peaceful reunification of East and West Germany by 1990.  The united Germany renounced its territorial claims in Poland and Czechoslovakia and continued its membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in European organizations.

Kohl remained in parliament until 2002.  In his retirement, he wrote his memoirs and another book and continued to speak publicly.

May Kohl’s legacy of a peaceful, united Germany and of a peaceful Western Europe long endure.

French parliamentary elections 
           The ruling center-left won a large majority in the French parliamentary elections over the weekend.  The  new party of the recently-elected President defeated the center-right, and especially the socialists, the far-left and the pro-Russian nationalists.  The center-left President, who was backed by leading conservatives in the runoff election against the Russian-backed nationalist candidate, is continuing France’s strong policies against Islamist terrorism and the machinations of the dictatorship of the Russian Federation.

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