The fact that Horst Köhler is the first German president to lay a wreath at the war memorial in Rotterdam to mark the German bombing of May 1940 was of less concern to Monday’s NRC Handelsblad than the character of the man himself.

‘Obstinate German visits’ read the headline, referring to Köhler’s state visit. The paper went on to tell us that the 64-year-old president does not care for rules and speaks his mind.
As evidence it quotes the president’s secret prison visit to RAF terrorist Christian Klar who was petitoning for a pardon and Köhler’s controversial comments that the differences between east and west Germany will always exist.
The president, who is supposed to be above politics, regularly makes political comments and is not much liked by politicians, says the paper. But his honesty makes him popular with the general public.
And at a state dinner on Monday night queen Beatrix praised him for Germany’s recent chairmanship of the EU.

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