I am deeply saddened by the passing of Jacques Chirac. He was a towering figure in French and European politics over many decades. Whatever our differences from time to time, he was always unfailingly kind, generous and personally supportive. We began the European Defence project together at St Malo. We worked closely on shared interests in ensuring enlargement of Europe happened in a way which integrated East with West. And where we competed as with the 2005 bid for the 2012 Olympics we did so in a spirit of good humour and friendship.
I always respected his forthright expression of views and I always felt his deep love and passion for France and the French people. My sincere and profound sympathies to Bernadette and all his family. He will be greatly missed.