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World Leaders praise Bush as a calm and vital statesman

BERLIN — To Germans, the 41st president of the United States, George Bush, was the man who helped ensure the peaceful reunification of their country. To Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union, he exemplified great kindness. To many Kuwaitis, he was a hero for the 100-hour ground war that routed Iraqi forces from their country.
On Saturday, as former and current leaders around the globe learned of Mr. Bush’s death at 94 on Friday night, their condolences were steeped in praise for the depth of his abilities as a statesman and his refusal to grandstand — which commentators noted was in sharp contrast to the tone of the current American administration.
“Germany owes a lot to George H.W. Bush,” Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote in a telegram to President Trump. “It was a stroke of luck in German history that he was at the head of the United States of America when the Cold War came to an end and Germany’s reunification became possible.”
Merkel praised Mr. Bush for recognizing “the significance of this historical hour” and giving Germans “his trust and support.”
“The courageous and peaceful revolution of the people to the east of the Iron Curtain thus met with the courage and skill of a statesman who, together with others, led Europe and the trans-Atlantic partnership through this upheaval, ushering in a new era,” she wrote.
Mr. Bush, often criticized at home for his measured response to the fall of the Iron Curtain, was lauded for that very quality abroad. His calm, controlled response to the end of Communism in Europe earned him respect on the Continent as a senior statesman, despite his decisions to send United States troops into Panama and to launch the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, underscored Mr. Bush’s skillful negotiation among the former adversaries of the Cold War.
“We had a chance to work together during the years of tremendous changes. It was a dramatic time that demanded great responsibility from everyone,” he told the Interfax news agency. “The result was an end to the Cold War and the nuclear arms race.”
Mr. Gorbachev said Mr. Bush “was a true partner” at the diplomatic table, but above all one who showed kindness to him and to his wife, Raisa.
“I will never forget the role he played in making Europe a safer and more united place following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.

“President Bush’s calmness, leadership and close personal relationships with Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev were decisive in restoring peace and freedom back to so many people across our continent,” Mr. Juncker said in a statement. “We Europeans will forever remember this.”
Lech Walesa, the former Polish president and leader of the Solidarity labor movement that helped to bring down Communism in his country, posted a picture on Twitter of himself standing arm in arm with Mr. Bush, their hands raised in “V” signs of victory. He, too, thanked Mr. Bush for his role in ending the Cold War.
President Emmanuel Macron of France expressed his condolences to Mr. Bush’s family in a message on Twitter, mourning a “great leader who strongly supported the alliance with Europe.”
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia recalled Mr. Bush as “an exceptional person” who “showed political wisdom and foresight, strived to make balanced decisions even in the most challenging situations.”
In the Middle East, Mr. Bush’s legacy was more nuanced, given his decision to end the war after 100 hours that pushed the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait but left Saddam Hussein in power.

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