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Guido Westerwelle (1961 - 2016)

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Guido Westerwelle (1961 - 2016)

Guido Westerwelle, a former German foreign minister, died March 18 of complications of leukemia, according to multiple news sources. He was 54.

Westerwelle was the first openly gay person to hold the office of foreign minister (2009 – 2013) as well as vice chancellor of Germany (2009 – 2011). He also served as the leader of the Free Democratic Party from 2001 to 2011.

During the time he served in the cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel, he aided in the bailout of Greece during their economic crisis and also pushed for Germany to stay out of military strikes in Libya in 2011. His position as Germany’s top diplomat put him in the position of dealing with countries whose policies were sometimes openly hostile toward gay people.

Westerwelle was born Dec. 27, 1961, in Bad Honnef, near Bonn in West Germany. He became active in politics as a law student.

After becoming the leader of the Free Democratic Party, he became known for touring the country in a yellow bus referred to as the Guidomobile. Under his leadership, the party saw electoral gains culminating in a coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democrat party in Germany’s parliamentary system. He was named vice chancellor and foreign minister in her second cabinet.

During his time in office, he called for reforms to strengthen the European Union as it dealt with the financial crisis in the eurozone.

He left office following electoral defeats for the Free Democratic Party in 2013.

Current FDP leader Christian Lindner described Westerwelle as a “convinced free-market economist, a defender of a tolerant and open society, and a staunch European.”

Westerwelle, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014, is survived by his husband, Michael Mronz.

A statement by the couple, released by the Westerwelle Foundation for International Understanding, said, “We are thankful for an unbelievably great time together.” They concluded, “Love remains.”

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