Paris (dpa) – “Adieu Monsieur le Président” (“Adieu Mr. President”) – France mourns its former head of state Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Top politicians from home and abroad paid tribute to the former president who died at the age of 94 as a reformer and convinced European.
The former head of state died Wednesday at his home in Authon, northeast of Tours, of complications from Covid 19.
Head of State Emmanuel Macron called the pastor a progressive statesman: “The directions he gave France (still) guide our steps,” said the Elysée Palace. Macron was born in 1977 – in the middle of Giscard d’Estaing’s tenure, which ran from 1974 to 1981. Macron wanted to address his countrymen in a speech that evening.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) emphasized the importance of the ex-president for Germany and Europe. “With Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, France has a statesman, Germany a friend and we have all lost a great European,” she quoted government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Twitter.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, praised Giscard, as he is often called in France, as a great European: “At heart, the fates of France and Europe were closely linked,” she wrote on Twitter.
Giscard d’Estaing was only released from the hospital in Tours, western France, in mid-November after a five-day stay. In September, the once most powerful Frenchman was treated in a hospital in Paris for mild pneumonia. According to information from his employees, the doctors ruled out infection with the corona virus. The funeral should take place in a family circle, it was said from his environment. An appointment was initially not mentioned.
The former president had spoken to the French public about EU issues until an old age. In September last year, the central politician was still at the memorial service for his conservative successor Jacques Chirac in Paris.
His death provoked much emotion and reaction from many politicians in France. ‘Adieu Monsieur le Président’, wrote Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer. “History has not yet done justice to this misunderstood president,” summarized the daily newspaper “Le Parisien”.
In the 1970s he formed a media-effective Franco-German duo with the then Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD). The Frenchman also had a close personal relationship with Germany. He was born on February 2, 1926 in Koblenz in the then French occupied Rhineland.
After the death of President Georges Pompidou, he was elected to the highest office in the state at the age of 48. He made a name for himself with reforms, including the liberalization of marriage and abortion law.
From 2002, Giscard d’Estaing led the EU Reform Convention, which presented a draft constitution for the renewal of the European Union. However, when the French and Dutch voted no in referendums in 2005, the project failed spectacularly. Subsequently, the EU Treaty of Lisbon adopted important provisions of the rejected constitution. In 2003 the European politician received the Charlemagne Prize from the city of Aachen.
CDU politician Armin Laschet, who is also Germany’s representative for cultural affairs in Franco-German cooperation, paid tribute to the deceased on Twitter: “During the deliberations on the European constitution, I saw Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president a passionate visionary with a pragmatic sense of what is feasible. He was a friend of Germany who will miss Europe. “
Giscard d’Estaing responded in June to an allegation of sexual harassment against him. “It’s all grotesque,” he told the French radio station RTL. A reporter from the WDR had accused him of sexually assaulting her. Ann-Kathrin Stracke told the German news agency that he “touched her buttocks several times after an interview I conducted with him in Paris in December 2018”. She confirmed that she had filed a criminal complaint for sexual harassment. The Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation. On request, no status of the investigation could be found on Thursday.