It's been almost a quarter of a century since

Angela Merkel

and Friedrich Merz became friends.

At the Christmas party of the Union faction in the Godesberg town hall, they put their heads together, in the distant year 1998. Above all, they agreed on one thing: The CDU had to emancipate itself from the Chancellor and new honorary chairman Helmut Kohl (1930 – 2017), who had just been voted out.

Ralph Bollman

Correspondent for economic policy and deputy head of business and “Money & More” for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper in Berlin.

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That meant, among other things, making the country fit for the future, daring more market and less "The pension is safe" rhetoric, with which Kohl had secured electoral success four times.

At times, Merz was even more researchy than Merkel when it came to anti-Kohl rhetoric.

In this respect, it is ironic that Merz and Merkel, of all people, appear this Tuesday in the French Cathedral in Berlin to pay tribute to Kohl.

The occasion is the establishment of the Federal Foundation Helmut Kohl and at the same time the anniversary of that constructive vote of no confidence that made the Palatinate chancellor 40 years ago.

On the other hand, the former junior staff Merz (now 66 years old) and the 68-year-old Merkel have since come significantly closer to the principles of the permanent chancellor in their own way.

Merkel, who put her reform program aside after the almost lost election victory in 2005, made the start.

Merz had criticized this for 16 years, and as party chairman he is now turning to social policy.

Ultimately, both have become Kohlians.

What they say about the deceased therefore attracts less interest than the fact that they are appearing at the same event at all - as they did in Godesberg.