Ex-French president d’Estaing dies of Covid at 94 Dec 04, 2020 0 423 12345 AFP ParisFormer French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who led his country into a new modern era and onto a firmly pro-European path, died late Wednesday of Covid-19, his family said.Giscard, who had been in hospital several times in the last months for heart problems, died “surrounded by his family” at the family home in the Loire region, the entourage said.“His state of health had worsened and he died as a consequence of Covid-19,” the family said in a statement sent to AFP, adding that his funeral would take place in intimate circumstances according to his wishes.He made one of his last public appearances on September 30 last year for the funeral of another former president, Jacques Chirac, who had been his prime minister.Giscard became the youngest ever president at 48 in 1974, beating his Socialist rival Francois Mitterrand, to whom he then lost after his seven-year term in 1981 in a failed re-election bid.His presidency marked a clear break from the Gaullist conservatism of postwar France which had been dominated by Charles de Gaulle himself, and his successor Georges Pompidou.In France he is remembered for his radical reform drive which included the legalisation of abortion, the liberalisation of divorce and lowering the voting age to 18.In Europe, he helped drive moves towards a monetary union, in close cooperation with his German counterpart chancellor Helmut Schmidt with whom he became friends.“For Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Europe was to be a French ambition and France a modern nation. Respect,” said Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.He “succeeded in modernising political life in France,” added former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Like Schmidt, he was also a firm believer in strong ties with the US.It was at his initiative that leaders of the world’s richest countries first met in 1975, an event that evolved into the annual summits of the Group of Seven (G7) club.With a more relaxed presidential style than his predecessors, he was sometimes seen in public playing soccer, or the accordion. He also hosted garbage collectors to breakfast and invited himself to dinner at the homes of ordinary citizens.Giscard involved his family in his political appearances, had the blue and red of France’s “tricolour” flag toned down, and the Marseillaise national anthem slowed down.Born to a well-to-do French family, Giscard was firmly part of the elite.Tall and slender and with an elegant, aristocratic manner, he studied at France’s elite Ecole Polytechnique and the National Administration School. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES UN chief warns of long road ahead after vaccines Dec 04, 2020 0 50 ‘Moscow to begin mass vaccinations against virus within days’ Dec 04, 2020 0 41 France targets mosques in crackdown on radical Islam Dec 04, 2020 0 42 France must overhaul controversial security bill, say UN experts AFP Geneva A group of independent United Nations experts on Thursday urged France to revise its controversial proposed security law, branding it “incompatible” with international human rights legislation. The five .. Hungary jails Syrian IS commander over imam beheading Budapest: A Hungarian court sentenced a Syrian man to life imprisonment on Thursday for terrorism and crimes against humanity including the beheading of an imam in Syria in 2015. The man was a commander of the Islamic .. Fauci to stay on as top US disease official under Biden dpa Washington Anthony Fauci, the US top infectious disease expert said on Thursday he expected to continue advising the government on its pandemic response after president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in January. .. UK sends 300 troops to Mali on UN peacekeeping mission London: Britain is deploying 300 troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali to help strengthen security and human rights there, its defence ministry said Thursday. The British troops will provide the UN mission with .. UK passes 60,000 coronavirus deaths: government More than 60,000 people have now died in Britain during the coronavirus outbreak, government figures showed on Thursday, in the latest grim milestone in Europe’s worst-affected country. An further 414 deaths within 28 ..