“O Hellenic Shore Where Our Fathers Dwell …”
I have never lost sight of the European dimension in my political activities. In fact, my commitment within the EPP gathered increasing momentum in the early 1990s. Only a few weeks before I was to meet my fellow heads of government at the EPP Summit in Pisa on 17 February 1990 — during which Helmut Kohl succeeded in convincing Giulio Andreotti to support German reunifcation — Thomas Jansen inquired discreetly as to whether I might be interested in becoming President of the EPP.
Jansen, a German, had been Secretary-General since 1983. His question stemmed from the good relations and cooperation we had built up over the years. A confict between Jansen and Kohl, which had been dragging on for some time, also played a role. Helmut Kohl had promoted Jansen to Secretary-General but during the late 1980s had become increasingly dissatisfed with the state of affairs within the EPP. Kohl had decided, therefore, that the CDU would no longer pay its membership dues. This would have been fatal for the operation and credibility of the EPP. Jansen hoped that if I were President, given the fact that I was on such friendly terms with Bonn, relations between the CDU and EPP would become normal again, and that the practical problems regarding the cost of membership would be solved.