(Brussels) “A great friend with whom I have spent many unforgettable moments”: the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, released a touching statement on the passing of former French President Jacques Chirac. “I am very sad to learn of the death of President Chirac. My thoughts go first of all to his family and to all French people”. Juncker recalled a goal shared with Chirac: “Strengthening our countries in a stronger and more protective Europe”. “I got to know him well in 1996, when I was mediating between him and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on the stability and growth pact”, Juncker revealed. “He said these words, which could have been mine: ‘Europe is first of all a community of values, more than a community of interests: it is the Europe of men, more than the Europe of markets”. The head of the Commission recalled the long nights they spent “working together on the future of Europe during the Nice Conference”. Mr Chirac “was a pragmatic European who has always been able to defend a certain idea of Europe. He campaigned for a ‘Yes’ vote in the Maastricht Treaty referendum of 1992 and supported the 2004 enlargement”. “Jacques Chirac also leaves a vision of international relations that gives us a compass and points of reference for coping with the world in which we live”. “He loved France and the French people deeply. Today, Europe loses one of its most prominent figures, France a great statesman, and I a faithful friend and long-standing travelling companion”.