Former German Chancellor Kohl in 'serious' condition after surgery

A 2013 file photo of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl.
A 2013 file photo of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl. REUTERS

BERLIN (REUTERS) - Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the architect of German reunification, is in a serious condition after hip replacement surgery, but responding to questions, his office said on Wednesday.

There have been worries about Kohl's health since the 85-year old went into hospital for the operation in early May, exacerbated by media reports that his condition had recently deteriorated.

His office confirmed reports that he was still undergoing treatment - its first update since early June when it said he was doing well and hoping to start rehabilitation.

"Unfortunately more medical treatment was necessary after the first operation," it said, adding it was still confident Kohl would recover.

"Contrary to conflicting reports, Kohl is also responsive. His health condition nonetheless is serious," it said, the first time it has used that term to describe his state.

Germany's longest serving post-war chancellor from 1982 to 1998, Kohl was a driving force behind the introduction of the euro currency, convincing sceptical Germans to give up their cherished Deutsche Mark.

An imposing figure who formed a close relationship with French President Francois Mitterrand in pushing for closer European integration, Kohl has been frail and wheelchair-bound since suffering a bad fall in 2008.

At home, he is celebrated above all as the father of German reunification, which he pushed through after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 - despite resistance from partners such as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.