It was with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of George H. W. Bush. The world has lost a statesman and a leader who was an example to us all. I personally have lost a friend.
Throughout his life he dedicated himself to his country and to the fight for freedom. From becoming the youngest navy pilot in history during the Second World War, to his ambassadorial roles at the United Nations or China, he always served his country with honour, bravery and dignity. This also defined his Presidency that came at a time of enormous change and instability across the world.
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. 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. We Europeans will forever remember this.
Above all he was a family man with a deep devotion to his wife, children and grandchildren and the people around him.
I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the American people and the entire Bush family at this sad time.