European leaders react to Schmidt′s death with shock, sadness and admiration | News | DW | 10.11.2015
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European leaders react to Schmidt's death with shock, sadness and admiration

German and international leaders alike have paid their respects in the wake of Helmut Schmidt's passing. Many consider him to be one of the most important German leaders of the post-war period.

As news of Schmidt's death reverberated around the world, tributes began to pour in from leaders in Germany and beyond.

Chancellor Angela Merkel recognized on Tuesday the merits of the former leader in a meeting with parliamentarians from her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

"I stand with deep respect before Helmut Schmidt's accomplishments," she said.

President Joachim Gauck, meanwhile, described Schmidt as one of the most important politicians of Germany's post-war period.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who belongs to Schmidt's Social Democratic Party (SPD), said all of Germany had come to a halt following the politician's death.

"We mourn a German democrat, a European trailblazer and a global spirit," Steinmeier said.

International response

It is not only in Germany that Schmidt's death has been felt, however.

The US White House said in a statement that Schmidt was "a firm, sure voice in a time of uncertainty and was widely admired for his principled approach to advancing detente while also standing firmly against aggression and violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights."

French President Francois Hollande was among the first of the world's leaders to pay tribute to the former West German chancellor, calling him "a great European" and saying he had laid the groundwork for German and French leaders who followed in his footsteps.

"He led his country at a very difficult time and he led it towards economic stability and towards the choice of growth," Hollande said. He added that Europe owed the existence of the euro common currency to Schmidt.

Meanwhile, other world leaders, including French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, took to Twitter to honor Schmidt. Valls called him the embodiment of "the social-democratic fervor, the Franco-German friendship, the love of Europe," and issued an appeal to his followers: "Let us be faithful to his memory."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also expressed his condolences, saying that "with the death of Helmut Schmidt, we've lost a special person, whose political courage moved many."

The news prompted a response from German leaders across the Atlantic as well, including Peter Wittig, Germany's ambassador to the US.

Meanwhile, Wittig's American counterpart, Ambassador John Emerson, issued a statement through the US consulate in Hamburg.

Russia's Vladimir Putin paid his respects as well, describing the former leader as an "outstanding figure of post-war Germany" in a telegram to Merkel and Gauck, the German news agency DPA reported.

Schmidt led West Germany from 1974 to 1982. He was well-known for his plain-spoken style, his tough stance on domestic terrorism and his commitment to the transatlantic security relationship.

blc/kms (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)

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