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Former German president Roman Herzog dies aged 82

Baku, January 10, AZERTAC

Roman Herzog, who as German president was a powerful advocate of economic reforms in the 1990s after the fall of the Berlin Wall, has died, the president's office said on Tuesday, according to Reuters. He was 82.

Herzog was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union. He served as the chief justice of Germany's highest court before being elected to a five-year term as president in 1994, four years after reunification.

Germany's current president, Joachim Gauck, described Herzog as a "distinctive personality, who had helped shape Germany's self-image and the interactions in our society."

Herzog last year hit out at the big political parties for not doing more to halt the rise of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which looks poised to become the third largest party in parliament in national elections this year.

After his term as president, a largely ceremonial post in Germany, Herzog also chaired the first European convention that drafted the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights.

"Today we have lost a great constitutional scholar, politician and statesman," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a statement.

He described Herzog as "a straightforward, honest and smart person who was not afraid to speak difficult truths, but also never lost his profound sense of humour."

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