A politician who commanded both national and international respect, the late Helmut Kohl was one of the most influential chancellors of the Federal Republic of Germany since its foundation.
His years in office coincided with the reunification of East and West Germany and the end of the Soviet Union. Not only did he drive the German re-unification process, but at the same time, like no other European leader, he moved European politics forwards. At the helm of re-unified Germany, Kohl turned his country into one of the strongest members of the European Monetary Union. His chief objective was to establish Germany as a key Western democratic society, without losing sight of the need for good, cooperative relations with Russia.
Helmut Kohl believed in pragmatic and cooperative dialogue as the way to solve problems and to create a consensus regarding the future of Europe and Germany among the diverse EU member-states, at a time that was still governed by Cold War hostilities.
His fundamental attitude can best be characterized by his saying: “Peace must be more than the absence of war.” During times of drastic global change and uncertainty, Helmut Kohl influenced world politics, contributing substantially to guaranteeing Europe enjoyed one of the longest peaceful periods in Western European history.
In Russia, Helmut Kohl was highly rated for his ability to closely and constructively engage with his Soviet and later Russian counterparts, especially during a period of tension and unpredictability.
One decisive factor was that Soviets and Russians felt that Kohl was an honest partner who could be relied on to stick to his word. Without this credibility, the summit meetings with then-Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, at which they considered Germany’s future, would never have produced such a stunning result: German re-unification less than a year after the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of a divided Europe.
The Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute honours Helmut Kohl as a European, as a political leader who worked for peace, welfare, and security in Europe both West and East.
We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and all those close to him.