Kohl encourages Merkel to pursue EU unity

Merkel arrives in Brussels for a meeting with top EU leaders. 16 July 2014 [The Council of the European Union]

Merkel arrives for a meeting with top EU leaders. Brussels, 16 July. [The Council of the European Union]

In a letter congratulating German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her 60th birthday Thursday (17 July), former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl encouraged her to focus on policy that brings Europe closer together, and emphasised the value of partnership with the United States. EURACTIV Germany reports.

“I would like to encourage you to hold on to a united Europe, to further promote political agreement and continue to stand up for necessary stability”, writes Helmut Kohl in a congratulatory letter published in Germany’s Bild newspaper on Angela Merkel’s 60th birthday (17 July).

84-year-old Kohl, who served as German Chancellor from 1982 to 1998, spoke of a unique success story for Germany and Europe “alongside our American friends in the free Western world and community of values”.

From 1991 to 1998, Merkel worked closely with Kohl as his Minister of Women and Youth and Minister of Environment. He is considered one of Merkel’s most defining political mentors.

“In view of the current circumstances and discussions, I can only encourage you again to continue resolutely along this path,” Kohl writes in the letter.

If stability and security is to remain guaranteed on the European continued, Kohl writes, there is no alternative to a united Europe and the euro. But Europe and its common currency can only fulfill the hopes invested in them as a “community of stability among member states that are stronger and likewise able to take common action”.

Political actors in the EU are currently debating whether more or less integration should be the bloc’s goal. At the moment, Germany’s relations with the United States are particularly strained due to numerous revelations regarding spying activities undertaken by US intelligence services.

Pro-euro currency from the start

In May 1998, Helmut Kohl was among European Community heads of state and government, who decided in Brussels to introduce the euro currency.

At the time, Kohl himself admitted he was aware that his decision went against the will of a broad majority of the German population and that he would have to forgo many votes in the Bundestag elections a few months later. Sure enough, later that year Kohl’s Christian democrats lost the race to social democrat Gerhard Schröder.

Just a few days before EU elections on 25 May 2014,  Kohl emphasised that a united Europe remains a question “of war and peace, along with everything that follows: peace comes with freedom, prosperity and democracy.”

In a May interview with Bild, Kohl emphasised that to achieve this, finances must be straightened out, and political union, on issues of economic and financial policy, as well as foreign and security policy, must be placed back on the agenda.

Angela Merkel has been chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany since 22 November 2005. She is the country's first female chancellor and, after another victory for her centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in September 2013, has served as Germany's head of government for three consecutive terms.

The euro crisis was a defining moment for Merkel's leadership in the EU. At first criticised for waiting too long to act, the Chancellor has promoted strict austerity in struggling EU member states like Greece and Italy. She received widespread criticism from across the EU for her tough policy but, as the 2013 elections revealed, most Germans approve of her handling of the crisis.

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