Helmut Kohl: German Chancellor With Down-to-Earth Economic Approach

Helmut Kohl, the chancellor who presided over both German reunification and the creation of the eurozone, has died aged 87.

Kohl headed the West German government for eight years between 1982 and 1990, then was Chancellor of united Germany between 1990 and 1998.

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Merkel, Germany's incumbent chancellor who grew up in communist East Germany before being appointed by Kohl to her first ministerial post, said he "changed my own life path decisively" by reuniting Germany. After the electoral defeat of 1998, Kohl also was marked by the scandal that exploded in 1999 when being informed irregular donations to its party, the CDU. He is credited with bringing East and West Germany together after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The conversion of bankrupt East German marks for the prized western currency at an over-generous (for the East Germans) exchange rate greatly hampered the initial competitiveness of the East German economy.

The German flag flies half-staff on the Reichstags building in Berlin Friday, June 16, 2017 after former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had died earlier the day.

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Born in 1930, in Ludwigshafen, an industrial city on the Rhine, Kohl joined the Hitler Youth but missed serving in the Nazi army.

"When a new spirit began to sweep through Eastern Europe in the 1980s, when freedom was won in Poland, when courageous people in Leipzig, East Berlin and elsewhere in East Germany staged a peaceful revolution, Helmut Kohl was the right person at the right time", said Merkel. H. Kohl will remain forever in the memory of the Kazakhstani people as a wise person, who made a great contribution to the establishment and strengthening of bilateral friendly relations. He celebrated the EU's eastward expansion in 2004 with a speech declaring that "the most important rule of the new Europe is: There must never again be violence in Europe". He also drew criticism for failing to embark on economic reforms.

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