Former French president who rejected Iraq war died at 86
Former French President Jacques Chirac died on Thursday at age 86, after suffering a long illness that kept him away from the political scene during the last years.
The news of his death was made public by his family: “President Jacques Chirac died this morning surrounded by his family. In peace”, said his son-in-law Frederic Salat-Baroux, the husband of the only daughter of the former president who survives him.
The center-right politician (born in Paris, 1932) served as a President of France between 1995 and 2007. Those years conformed a harsh era, marked by major changes in the international arena, the terrorist attacks of 11 September and the two wars launched by US President George W. Bush against Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).
Precisely, Jacques Chirac gained world sympathy in 2003 with his firm rejection to the Iraq war and by warning about the consequences for the world of undermining international law. That position made him popular especially among Europeans, but it earned him the animosity of many political actors in the United States.
After knowing the news of his decease, former president François Hollande stressed Chirac's international vision: “Long before others, he understood the challenge of global warming, the development of Africa and peace in the Middle East. For that reason, he rejected in 2003 that our country entered the Iraq war whose tragic consequences we see today", he said in a statement.
"Chirac will remain the man of the speech of Vel d'Hiv, the president who opposed the war in Iraq, the passionate about civilizations and the man to vote in 2002. I know he already occupies a beautiful place in the heart of the French", said former French Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Twitter.
2)..Chirac restera l’ homme du discours du Vel d’Hiv, le Pt qui s’est opposé à la guerre en Irak, le passionné des civilisations et celui ..pour qui j’ai voté en 2002..Je pense à sa famille et à ses proches. Je sais qu’il occupe déjà une belle place dans le cœur des français. pic.twitter.com/G3dNu6p2Pc— Manuel Valls (@manuelvalls) September 26, 2019
Jacques Chirac was also the first French head of state who recognized in 1995 the responsibility of France in the deportation of Jews during the Second World War (an awkward matter that his predecessors of the V Republic avoided).
And in terms of domestic politics he was the man who defeated for the first time in a second election round the far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen from the National Front. In order to achieve it, he managed to gather all other forces, including leftists, in a so-called 'Republican front'.
But Jacques Chirac will also go down in history as the first French president who was convicted of justice for embezzlement of public funds while he was mayor of Paris. When the verdict was known in 2011 he was already ill, so he did not have to serve two years in prison for which he was convicted of authorizing dozens of fictitious jobs.