European Parliament President Sassoli dies aged 65. Condolences from Poland and other EU states
European Parliament President David Sassoli, an Italian socialist and former journalist, died on Tuesday in hospital in Italy, his spokesperson and office said. He was 65. Among condolences coming in from all over the world there were those extended by Polish officials and politicians, including President Andrzej Duda and the country's former prime minister Donald Tusk.
Sassoli died at 1.15 a.m. (0015 GMT), his spokesperson, Roberto Cuillo, said on Twitter.
Sassoli had been admitted to hospital last month because of a "serious complication" related to his immune system, his office had said on Monday.
He had been president of the 705-seat parliament since July 2019. Sassoli, whose term in the predominantly ceremonial role had been due to end this month, had said he would not run for re-election.
Maltese lawmaker Roberta Metsola, from the conservative European People's Party (EPP), is widely expected to be a candidate for the post.
European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen, who heads the European Union's executive body, paid tribute to Sassoli, saying that she was deeply saddened by his death.
"David Sassoli was a compassionate journalist, an outstanding President of the European Parliament and, first & foremost, a dear friend," she said on Twitter.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also sent condolences.
"Saddened to hear of the death of EP_President David Sassoli, a strong voice for democracy and NATO-EU cooperation," he said in a tweet.
Italian politicians on many sides paid tribute to Sassoli, and his death dominated morning news shows. Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Sassoli's death was shocking and praised him as profoundly pro-European.
"Sassoli was a symbol of balance, humanity and generosity. These qualities have always been recognised by all his colleagues, from every political position and every European country," Draghi's office said in a statement.
Former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who heads the Democratic Party, called Sassoli "a person of extraordinary generosity, a passionate European ... a man of vision and principles".
Condolences from Poland
Polish politicians also extended condolences and paid respects to Sassoli.
"Today at night David Sassoli has pased away - President of the European Parliament. I'd like to extend my deepest sympathies to Family, Friends and Colleagues of the Deceased. R.I.P." - President Andrzej Duda said in a tweet.
"It's so sad to learn about David Sassoli's passing. I will always remember You as a great European, patriot and my good friend. Rest in peace," Poland's former prime minister and former chief of the European Council Donald Tusk wrote on Twitter.
Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau said on Twitter: "I'm deeply saddened to have learned about the loss of David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament - a great Italian and European; my thoughts are with his family and all his compatriots".
"With regret I have learned about the death of EP presdient David Sassoli; I'd like to express my sincerest sympathies to his family; our last meeting and interesting discussion on Europe will remain in my memory," Speaker of the Sejm Elżbieta Witek wrote.
Speaker of the Senate Tomasz Grodzki said Sassoli "was a great friend of Poland, concerned about the future of united Europe".
"On behalf of the Polish government I'm sending condolences to the family and relatives. May he rest in peace," Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a tweet.
Pledge to tackle extreme nationalism
In his inaugural speech, Sassoli had urged Europeans to counter the "virus" of extreme nationalism and called for a reform of EU rules on migration and political asylum.
Due to illness, he had been unable to chair the Strasbourg-based parliament in recent weeks and had missed the European Commission's annual state of the union event in September.
Sassoli started his career as a newspaper journalist before joining Italian state broadcaster RAI, where he became a household name delivering the main evening news.
He switched to politics in 2009, joining the centre-left Democratic Party and easily won election to the European Parliament.
After a failed bid to become mayor of Rome, he focused his attention on European politics, working his way up to become president of the EU parliament in 2019.
He was stricken low with pneumonia in September 2021, forcing him to spend several weeks in hospital. He never regained full strength and had to return to hospital in December after suffering severe problems with his immune system.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters, PAP
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: JULIEN WARNAND/EPA/PAP