Merkel hails Thatcher as 'extraordinary leader'



Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday, as an "extraordinary leader" who played a pivotal role in overcoming Europe's Cold War division.

"She was an extraordinary leader in the global politics of her time," Merkel said in a statement. "I will never forget her part in surmounting the division of Europe and at the end of the Cold War."

Merkel, a fellow conservative who was often compared to Thatcher when she became chancellor in 2005, said Thatcher would not be remembered as a "female politician" but one who had blazed a trail for women in the halls of power.

"As she took the highest democratic offices as a woman before that was common, she set an example for many," Merkel said.

She said that Thatcher's values and principles served as a beacon while Europe was still divided into opposing blocs.

"The liberty of the individual stood at the heart of her convictions -- Margaret Thatcher recognised the power of the freedom movements of Eastern Europe early on and lent them her support," she said.

AFP