The Latest: Lebanon’s PM says Chirac was a ‘dear friend’
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on former French President Jacques Chirac’s death (all times local):
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is paying tribute to the late French President Jacques Chirac, calling him a “remarkable personality” and a “dear friend.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Hariri said Chirac “held Lebanon’s hand in the most difficult circumstances.”
Hariri’s father, the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, developed a close friendship with Chirac, who traveled to Beirut with his wife after Hariri was assassinated in a truck bombing in 2005. Chirac then supported Lebanon’s so-called “Cedar Revolution” aimed at ending Syria’s decades-long occupation of the tiny country.
Saad Hariri described Chirac as the “spiritual brother of Rafik Hariri and the big brother of the family.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is paying tribute to former French President Jacques Chirac as “a great statesman and European.”
Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, quoted the chancellor in a tweet as saying Thursday that she was “very sad” about Chirac’s death at 86. She said “he was an outstanding partner and friend to us Germans and to me personally.”
Chirac was in office when Merkel came to power in 2005 and was the first of four French presidents she has worked with.
Merkel said: “I am mourning a great statesman and European together with his family and the French people.”
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says the city is mourning the death of President Jacques Chirac, who was the mayor of the French capital for 18 years.
Hidalgo paid tribute to a “huge humanist figure who marked the country’s history.” Chirac was the mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995, when he was elected president.
Hidalgo said “for us, Parisians, he will be our mayor forever, loving this city and its inhabitants with passion.” Condolence books will be opened in the city hall.
Chirac’s successor at the French presidency, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, tweeted that “his memory will remain in France’s history as in the heart of all citizens.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is praising late French President Jacques Chirac for his “intellect and great knowledge” and ability to make “balanced decisions.”
The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin sent a telegram expressing condolences after Chirac’s death Thursday.
The telegram said Chirac’s name “is tied to a whole epoch of modern France” and that Chirac had a “high international authority as a wise statesman with a long-term view, defending the interests of his country.”
Putin, who met Chirac regularly at international summits, also praised Chirac’s contribution to Russian-French relations.
French President Emmanuel Macron will make a speech in homage to former President Jacques Chirac in a national address on television.
Macron is to speak at 8 p.m. local time to pay tribute to his late predecessor.
Macron cancelled a visit Thursday to the southern town of Rodez, where he had planned to take part in a public meeting on his planned overhaul of the retirement system.
Mourners are bringing flowers to the residence of late French President Jacques Chirac and looking past his problems to share grief and memories of a man who long dominated France’s political scene.
Police put up barricades around the apartment where Chirac’s family lives as mourners arrived Thursday.
His presidency was marred by corruption scandals and political tensions but the French remembered him fondly, both his personal touch and his courage to stand up to the United States.
Parisian Joel Josse said Chirac “brought France to a higher global level.” Passerby Christina Haye said that even young people in her office were “very affected” by the news. “I think he did a lot for France in general, and it’s just sad.”
Anne Claire Bergot said simply: “Peace to his soul.”
People expressed condolences for the conservative leader from across the political spectrum. Socialist former President Francois Hollande tweeted: “The French, regardless of their convictions, are losing today a statesman, but also a friend.”
France’s lower house of parliament has held a minute of silence for late President Jacques Chirac.
Cries of shock rang out in the National Assembly as the legislature’s president Richard Ferrand announced the news that Chirac had died Thursday. He was 86.
Ferrand asked the lawmakers, “I ask you to observe in his memory a minute of silence.”
Chirac served as a parliament member as well as mayor of Paris and president of the nation for 12 years.
Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt remembers Jacques Chirac as an earthy man with exceptional knowledge of the European Union’s workings that he somehow combined with an excellent sense of humor.
Verhofstadt’s time in office long overlapped with Chirac’s and they met often at European summits. The former French president died Thursday at age 86.
“When we discussed tough issues, his humor always brought a sense of relief,” Verhofstadt said. “But it is especially his attachment to the European project that turned him into the real statesman that we will miss.”
European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says that the European Union has lost one of the strongest defenders of European unity with the death of former French President Jacques Chirac.
Juncker said that Chirac will leave an indelible mark on the EU, and added that he was also losing a “dear personal friend.”
In a statement Thursday, Juncker said that Chirac’s “legacy for France and the EU will stay with us forever.”
Jacques Chirac, a two-term French president who was the first leader to acknowledge France’s role in the Holocaust and defiantly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, has died at age 86.
His son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux told The Associated Press that Chirac died Thursday “peacefully, among his loved ones.” He did not give a cause of death, though Chirac had had repeated health problems since leaving office in 2007.
Chirac was long the standard-bearer of France’s conservative right, and mayor of Paris for nearly two decades. He was nicknamed “Le Bulldozer” early in his career for his determination and ambition. As president from 1995-2007 he was a consummate global diplomat but failed to reform the economy or defuse tensions between police and minority youths that exploded into riots across France in 2005.