Following the breach of the "Berlin Wall and the collapse of the East German Communist regime in 1989, Kohl's handling of the East German issue would become the turning point of his chancellorship. Kohl, like most West Germans, was initially caught unaware when the "Socialist Unity Party was toppled in late 1989. However, well aware of his constitutional mandate to seek German unity, he immediately moved to make it a reality. Taking advantage of the historic political changes occurring in East Germany, Kohl presented a ten-point plan for "Overcoming of the division of Germany and Europe" without consulting his coalition partner, the FDP, or the Western Allies. In February 1990, he visited the Soviet Union seeking a guarantee from "Mikhail Gorbachev that the USSR would allow German reunification to proceed. One month later, the "Party of Democratic Socialism — the renamed SED — was roundly defeated by a grand coalition headed by the East German counterpart of Kohl's CDU, which ran on a platform of speedy reunification.
On 18 May 1990, Kohl signed an economic and social union treaty with East Germany. This treaty stipulated that when reunification took place, it would be under the quicker provisions of Article 23 of the Basic Law. That article stated that any new states could adhere to the Basic Law by a simple majority vote. The alternative would have been the more protracted route of drafting a completely new constitution for the newly reunified country, as provided by Article 146 of the Basic Law. However, an Article 146 reunification would have opened up contentious issues in West Germany, and would have been impractical in any case since by then East Germany was in a state of utter collapse. In contrast, an Article 23 reunification could be completed in as little as six months.
Over the objections of "Bundesbank president "Karl Otto Pöhl, he allowed a 1:1 exchange rate for wages, interest and rent between the "West and "East Marks. In the end, this policy would seriously hurt companies in the "new federal states. Together with Foreign Minister "Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Kohl was able to resolve talks with the former Allies of World War II to allow "German reunification. He received assurances from Gorbachev that a reunified Germany would be able to choose which international alliance it wanted to join, although Kohl made no secret that he wanted the reunified Germany to inherit West Germany's seats at NATO and the EC.
A reunification treaty was signed on 31 August 1990, and was overwhelmingly approved by both parliaments on 20 September 1990. On 3 October 1990, East Germany officially ceased to exist, and its territory joined the Federal Republic as the five states of "Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, "Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and "Thuringia. These states had been the original five states of East Germany before being abolished in 1952, and had been reconstituted in August. East and West Berlin were reunited as the capital of the enlarged Federal Republic. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kohl confirmed that "historically German territories east of the "Oder-Neisse line were definitively part of "Poland, thereby relinquishing any claim Germany had to them. In 1993, Kohl confirmed, via treaty with the Czech Republic, that Germany would no longer bring forward territorial claims as to the pre-1945 "ethnic German so-called "Sudetenland. This treaty was a disappointment for the German "Heimatvertriebene ("displaced persons").
Chancellor of reunified Germany
Reunification placed Kohl in a momentarily unassailable position. In the "1990 elections – the first free, fair and democratic all-German elections since the "Weimar Republic era – Kohl won by a landslide over opposition candidate and Minister-President of "Saarland, "Oskar Lafontaine. He then formed his "fourth cabinet.
After the "federal elections of 1994 Kohl was reelected with a somewhat reduced majority, defeating Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate "Rudolf Scharping. The SPD was however able to win a majority in the "Bundesrat, which significantly limited Kohl's power. In foreign politics, Kohl was more successful, for instance getting "Frankfurt am Main as the seat for the "European Central Bank. In 1997, Kohl received the "Vision for Europe Award for his efforts in the unification of Europe.
By the late 1990s, the aura surrounding Kohl had largely worn off amid rising unemployment. He was heavily defeated in the "1998 federal elections by the Minister-President of "Lower Saxony, "Gerhard Schröder.
Retirement and legal troubles
A "red-"green coalition government led by Schröder replaced Kohl's government on 27 October 1998. He immediately resigned as CDU leader and largely retired from politics. However, he remained a member of the Bundestag until he decided not to run for reelection in the "2002 election.
CDU finance affair
Kohl's life after political office in the beginning was dominated by the "CDU-party finance scandal. The party financing scandal became public in 1999, when it was discovered that the CDU had received and kept illegal donations during Kohl's leadership.
Life after politics
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In 2002, Kohl left the Bundestag and officially retired from politics. In recent years, Kohl has been largely rehabilitated by his party again. After taking office, "Angela Merkel invited her former patron to the Chancellor's Office and Ronald Pofalla, the Secretary-General of the CDU, announced that the CDU will cooperate more closely with Kohl, "to take advantage of the experience of this great statesman", as Pofalla put it. On 5 July 2001, his wife, "Hannelore, committed suicide, due to suffering from "photodermatitis for many years. On 4 March 2004, he published the first of his memoirs, called "Memories 1930–1982", covering the period 1930 to 1982, when he became chancellor. The second part, published on 3 November 2005, included the first half of his chancellorship (from 1982–90). On 28 December 2004, he was air-lifted by the "Sri Lankan Air Force, after having been stranded in a hotel by the "2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Kohl is a member of the "Club of Madrid.
As reported in the German press, he also gave his name to the soon-to-be launched Helmut Kohl Centre for European Studies (currently Centre for European Studies), which is the new political foundation of the "European People's Party. In late February 2008, Kohl suffered a stroke in combination with a fall which caused serious head injuries and required his hospitalization, since when he has been reported as bound to a wheelchair due to partial paralysis and with difficulty speaking. He has remained in intensive care since, marrying his 43-year-old partner, Maike Richter, on 8 May 2008, while still in hospital. In 2010, he had a gall bladder operation in Heidelberg, and heart surgery in 2012. He was reportedly in "critical condition" in June 2015, following intestinal surgery following a hip-replacement procedure.
In 2011, Kohl, in spite of his frail health, began giving a number of interviews and issued statements in which he sharply condemned his successor Angela Merkel, whom he had formerly mentored, on her policies in favor of strict "austerity in the "European debt crisis and later also towards Russia in the "Ukrainian crisis, which he sees as opposed to his politics of peaceful bi-lateral European integration during his time as chancellor. He has published the book Aus Sorge um Europa ("Out of Concern for Europe") outlining these criticisms of Merkel (while also attacking his immediate successor "Gerhard Schröder's Euro policy) and was widely quoted in the press as saying, "Die macht mir mein Europa kaputt." ("She's destroying the Europe that I have built."). Kohl thus joined former German chancellors Gerhard Schröder and "Helmut Schmidt in their similar criticisms of Merkel's policies in these two fields. On 19 April 2016, Kohl was visited in his Oggersheim residence by Hungarian "Prime Minister "Viktor Orbán. The two had a one-hour conversation and released a joint press statement regarding the "European migrant crisis, saying that both doubted that Europe was capable of continuing to absorb refugees indefinitely. Before the meeting, it had widely been interpreted as criticism of Angela Merkel's handling of the crisis, but eventually, Kohl and Orban refrained from attacking the chancellor directly, writing: "It is about a good future for Europe and peace in the world. The efforts of [Merkel] point in the same direction."
Kohl was committed to "European integration, maintaining close relations with the "French president "Mitterrand. Parallel to this he was committed to "German reunification. Although he continued the "Ostpolitik of his social-democratic predecessors, Kohl supported Reagan's more aggressive policies in order to weaken the "USSR.["citation needed]
Kohl faced stiff opposition from the West German political left, and mocked for his provincial background, physical stature and simple language. Similar to historical French cartoons of "Louis-Philippe of France, Hans Traxler depicted Kohl as a pear in the left-leaning satirical journal "Titanic. The German word "Birne" ("pear") became a widespread nickname and symbol for the Chancellor.
Honors and awards
Helmut Kohl has received numerous awards and accolades, as well as honorary titles such as doctorates and citizenships. Among others, he was joint recipient of the "Charlemagne Prize with "French President "François Mitterrand for their contribution to Franco-German friendship and European Union. In 1996, Kohl received the "Prince of Asturias Award in International Cooperation from "Felipe of Spain. In 1998, Kohl was named "Honorary Citizen of Europe by the "European heads of state or government for his extraordinary work for European integration and cooperation, an honor previously only bestowed on "Jean Monnet.
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|"Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
|"Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate
|Chairperson of the "Group of 7
|Chairperson of the "Group of 7