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Kohl pays historic visit to conservative MPs

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Kohl pays historic visit to conservative MPs
Photo: DPA
18:01 CEST+02:00
Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl made his first appearance in a decade before members of his conservative party in parliament on Tuesday. "These are my roots, here I am at home," he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, to whom Kohl served as a mentor, welcomed the former head of state to the session, where the 82-year-old was met with thunderous applause. He was accompanied by his wife Maike.

Kohl has been confined to a wheelchair since fracturing his hip in 2008 - and has difficulty speaking.

The ex-chancellor was honoured for his 16 years as head of state, which started 30 years ago on October 1, and ended in 1998. He retired from politics when he left the Bundestag in 2002.

"I know what he's done for our country and for Europe," former defence minister Franz Josef Jung remarked. "They were historic achievements."

But Kohl's public image since he left office - and his relationship with Merkel - have been damaged by the financial corruption scandal in which both he and his fellow conservatives were implicated. He refused to name donors, saying he had given them his word he never would.

Peter Gauweiler from the CDU's sister Bavarian party the Christian Social Union said Kohl's party had treated him "too harshly" during the scandal - and said Kohl's appearance before the CDU/CSU parliamentary group was an important moment.

DPA/The Local/arp

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