Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, a key architect of European integration in the early 1970s, has died at the age of 94 after contracting COVID-19, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Giscard, who was France’s leader from 1974 to 1981, had recently been hospitalised in Tours, in western France. He died at his family home nearby after suffering from complications linked to the virus, a foundation he had set up and chaired said in a statement.
He had been admitted to hospital in September with respiratory complications, and was hospitalised again in mid-November.
Giscard was known for steering a modernisation of French society during his presidency, including allowing divorce by mutual consent and legalising abortion, and was one of the architects of European integration.
Elected president at 48, he came to power after Charles de Gaulle’s long rule, seeking to liberalise the economy and social attitudes and credited with launching major projects including France’s high-speed TGV train network.
He lost his re-election bid, however, to Socialist Francois Mitterrand, in the aftermath of the global economic downturn of the 1970s.
Tributes poured in across the political spectrum in France. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy said Giscard had “worked his whole life to reinforce relations between European nations.”