Minister Westerwelle issued the following statement today to express his sorrow at the death of Jean François‑Poncet, who passed away in Paris on 18 July 2012 at the age of 83:
“I was very sorry to hear of the death of France’s former Foreign Minister and Senator Jean François‑Poncet. With his passing, Germany has lost a committed friend who always worked with enormous dedication for the reconciliation of our two countries.
Jean François‑Poncet was a founding member of the European project, helping to drive and to shape the work of European integration. As a child in Berlin, he saw the beginning of Germany’s darkest hour in 1933. After that, he dedicated a lifetime to the cause of Franco‑German friendship.
Jean François‑Poncet was a great French diplomat, an outstanding Foreign Minister and a pioneer in European politics who will be sorely missed. We in Germany and in France are bound to his legacy of continuing European integration.”
Jean François‑Poncet was Foreign Minister of the French Republic from 1978 until 1981, having previously served as Secretary‑General at the Élysée under President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. He maintained his active role in French politics throughout the last 20 years as a Member of the Senate.
Several years of his childhood were spent in Berlin, where his father, Ambassador André François‑Poncet, manned the Embassy on Pariser Platz. As recently as January 2012, he was back once more in his capacity as founder of the Franco‑German Encounters in Evian to accept the 2012 Adenauer‑de Gaulle Prize presented by Minister of State Michael Link.