Former French President Jacques Chirac, a vocal advocate of European unity, has died Thursday at the age of 86.
The two-time president will be remembered for his political prowess and his cultivated man-of-the-people style. Chirac volunteered for the French Army in 1956 during the Algerian war. He made nearly 40-year career in politics. At age 35 he became one of the youngest government ministers in France under President Charles de Gaulle. Mayor of Paris for nearly two decades, Chirac was nicknamed "Le Bulldozer" early in his career due to his determination and ambition. He became president in 1995.
Chirac was the first French leader to acknowledge France’s role in the Holocaust. As president, he sent his foreign minister to the United Nations to publicly declare that France would oppose the US-led war in Iraq. For years, he was dogged by charges of corruption dating back decades to his time in the Paris City Hall. He was found guilty of misuse of public money, breach of trust and illegal conflict of interest and given a two-year suspended jail sentence.The family did not provide a cause of death, but Chirac has had health issues since leaving the presidency in 2007. He suffered a stroke in 2005, and in 2014, his wife, Bernadette, said he would no longer be speaking in public, noting he had memory trouble.