In Memory of President Jacques Chirac

September 30, 2019

In the News

On this national day of mourning for France, former French President Jacques Chirac is remembered for his service to the country. He passed away at the age of 86 in Paris on Thursday, September 26.

Prior to his two-term presidency from 1995 to 2007, he held a series of leadership positions during his political career, including Prime Minister of France and Mayor of Paris throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s.

President Chirac was known for his international presence and his post-World War II policies, defending France’s interests on the international scene while strengthening both European and transatlantic alliances. He advocated for strong working ties with Germany and reaffirmed a vision of a political and ambitious European Union by taking France into a single European currency and reiterating the need to renew European institutions. He believed that a strong Europe and balanced transatlantic ties grounded in a strong working relationship with the United States were essential for international stability.

During his career, President Chirac developed an outward-spoken relationship with the United States. He played a direct role in facilitating President Clinton’s intervention during the Balkan Crisis and was the first head of state to meet with US President George W. Bush after the September 11 terrorist attack, while later publicly opposing the war in Iraq in 2003. Below is President Clinton’s response to his death via the Clinton Foundation:

Hillary and I join the people of France in mourning the passing of President Jacques Chirac.  He was a bold, skilled statesman who never wavered in his defense of French interests or his pursuit of a strong, unified, and free Europe.  I will always be proud to have worked closely with him as President to strengthen the transatlantic alliance, support the growth and expansion of the EU, and end the conflict in Bosnia.  And I will always be grateful for his genuine kindness and friendship to Hillary and me.  My thoughts are with Bernadette and his family.

Moreover, he publicly acknowledged France’s participation in the Holocaust during his presidency. In 2002, he became the first head of state to call global attention to climate change, noting in a speech that “Our house is burning, and we are looking the other way,” thereby setting the stage for France’s future climate policies. He later established the Fondation Chirac in 2008 which works toward peace and conflict prevention.

The French-American Foundation is proud to develop strong working ties between leaders in the US and France. We honor the life and passing of President Chirac for his service to France and its relationship with the United States.

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