Ex-President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing is dead

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Valéry Giscard d’Estaing outlived his successors François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac. Now the former French President and Europe friend died of old age.

Former French head of state Valéry Giscard d’Estaing is dead. The center politician, who served in the Élysée Palace from 1974 to 1981, died at the age of 94, as the French news agency AFP reported on Wednesday evening, citing those around the former president. The former president was only released from the hospital in Tours in western France in the middle of the month after a five-day stay.

Giscard d’Estaing was a staunch European and spoke out in the French public on EU issues well into old age. In the 1970s he formed an exemplary Franco-German duo with the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD).

The tall Frenchman with an aristocratic demeanor outlived his successors François Mitterrand (1916-1996) and Jacques Chirac (1932-2019). At the funeral service for Chirac in Paris in September 2019, he still took part – walking stooped.

D’Estaing was born in Koblenz

Giscard d’Estaing also had a close personal relationship with Germany. He was born on February 2, 1926 in Koblenz in the then French-occupied Rhineland. After the Second World War, he graduated from the French elite university ENA. He then rose to become Minister of Economics and Finance. After the death of President Georges Pompidou, he was elected to the highest office of the state at the age of 48.

Giscard implemented social reforms such as the liberalization of marriage and abortion law in the Elysée Palace. Towards the end of his tenure, however, his popularity suffered – among other things because of the affair surrounding a diamond gift from the Central African dictator Jean-Bédel Bokassa.

From 2002 onwards, Giscard led the EU reform convention, which presented a draft constitution for the renewal of the European Union. However, when the French and Dutch voted no in referendums in 2005, the project failed spectacularly. After that, the EU Treaty of Lisbon adopted important provisions of the rejected constitution. In 2003 the European politician Giscard d’Estaing received the Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen.

Giscard d’Estaing responded to an allegation of sexual harassment against him in June. “It’s all grotesque,” he told the French radio station RTL. A reporter from the WDR had accused him of having sexually molested her. Ann-Kathrin Stracke told the dpa news agency that he “touched her buttocks several times after an interview I conducted with him in Paris in December 2018.” She confirmed that she had filed criminal charges of sexual harassment. The Paris prosecutor opened an investigation.

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