Macron joins Germany in goodbye for 'Europe's pillar' Schaeuble

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Macron joins Germany in goodbye for 'Europe's pillar' Schaeuble
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a memorial event to honour the late politician Wolfgang Schaeuble at the German lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin on January 22, 2024. Photo by MICHELE TANTUSSI / AFP

France's President Emmanuel Macron joined Germany on Monday in saying goodbye - with a speech in German - to former finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, hailed for his role in forging closer integration in Europe.


"Germany lost a statesman, Europe a pillar and France a friend," said Macron at the Bundestag ceremony, speaking mostly in German.

That a Frenchman was giving a speech at the German parliament also attested to the "friendship of this great German" towards his French neighbours, added Macron.


Schaeuble, who died on December 26th after a long battle with illness, was a minister under chancellors Helmut Kohl and Angela Merkel and played a key role in German reunification in 1990.

He was also Germany's longest-serving MP, having spent 51 years as a parliamentarian.

Born in Freiburg in 1942, Schaeuble forged his career under Kohl, rising through the ranks to eventually become chief-of-staff for the chancellor, to whom he was long seen as the heir apparent.


Together they oversaw Germany's reunification, before personal tragedy struck Schaeuble. An assassination attempt by a deranged man in 1990 left him badly injured and forced him to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Schaeuble later served under Merkel as finance minister, including when eurozone countries were rocked by a sovereign debt crisis.

For his unwavering insistence that Greece make deep public spending cuts in return for loans, Schaeuble had been reviled by Greeks.

But Merkel, speaking on the sidelines of Monday's Bundestag ceremony, defended Schaeuble and stressed his role in keeping Greece in the EU.

"He was strict, and not only to himself, but that helps to better shape the future," she said, describing Schaeuble as an "anchor of stability".

From Schaeuble, Merkel said she learnt to "listen well, not to give up quickly, to debate intellectually and clear, and to always find a compromise at the end".



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