Tirana, Albania – | 14 Feb 2022 (Tirana Echo) – Tributes have poured in for former Slovak Foreign Minister and former MEP Eduard Kukan who passed away last night at the age of 82.
Mr. Kukan was a much loved politician both in Brussels and in South-East Europe, where he dedicated much of his efforts to defusing political tensions, particularly in the Balkans.
Born in 1939, Eduard Kukan was a long time career diplomat who served as Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Minister at three intervals, in 1994, 1998 and later from 2002-2006, leading the country’s EU accession talks and NATO. Co-founder of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) political party, he dedicated much of his political career to foreign policy.
He later served for a decade as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2009 to 2019 as member of the EPP group and was a prominent member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs (AFET).
“Former FM Eduard Kukan (†82) passed away today. Serving in demanding times, he dedicated his life to building Slovak Foreign Service. His crucial decisions enabled our accession to EU&NATO. Without him the story of Slovakia could have been significantly different. Thank You”. Read the post of Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
While his life is being celebrated in his native Slovakia during this week, the news of his death came as a shock to many fellow colleagues at the European Parliament.
“I am shocked, I cannot believe it. We were together just a couple of days ago in Belgrade. He was a such a great man and politician. A true European. Dear Eduard Kukan, I will greatly miss you”, wrote Tanja Fajon MEP.
The European People’s Party Group (EPP) expressed their sadness at the passing of one of their prominent members.
“A true European, he anchored Slovakia in EU & NATO & later dedicated his work to the integration efforts of the Western Balkans. He made the EPP proud.” – read the tweet of the centre-right European political family.
Meanwhile, EPP Chairman Manfred Weber MEP said that “his experience and his wisdom were an inspiration to all of us. He will be greatly missed”.
Kukan was celebrated across Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean for his efforts towards peace and integration in the European Parliament, with tributes pouring in from all over the world.
“His contribution to the fermenting friendship relations between Slovakia and Israel, as FA minister and MEP was truly valuable”, wrote the Israeli Embassy in Bratislava.
“Ukraine has lost a good friend, supporter of our EU integration perspectives. May the worls remember his dedication to peace-keeping and democracy”, wrote the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I was saddened to learn of Eduard Kukan’s untimely passing. He was a statesman whose career made a significant contribution to the promotion of European values. Our most recent meeting was marked by his confidence in Serbia’s European future, for which I am immensely grateful” – wrote Serbia’s President Alexander Vucic.
Kukan was a champion of EU enlargement and one of the strongest advocates in favour of the integration of Balkan nations into the European Union.
Tributes have also poured in more particularly in Albania and North Macedonia, where Kukan was hailed as a champion of the small Balkan nations’ efforts to join the EU. The Albanian Parliament held 1 minute silence in his honour.
“A good friend of Albania to whom we are deeply grateful for his wise diplomacy and support for our European integration”, tweeted Albania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Olta Xhaçka.
“A truly dedicated friend and supporter of North Macedonia’s NATO membership and its European future. We will miss his leadership and vision”, said Bujar Osmani, Foreign Minister of North Macedonia.
Eduard Kukan is survived by his wife Zdenka and two adult children. The funeral will take place on Thursday 17th February in Bratislava.
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