BRUSSELS, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso paid tribute to his predecessor Francois-Xavier Ortoli, who died on Friday at the age of 82.
"It is with deep emotion that I learned of the death of Francois-Xavier Ortoli ... and I would like personally and on behalf of the European Commission, to join this national mourning," said Barroso in a message to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ortoli demonstrated the extent of his immense capabilities at the service of Europe, especially when he was president of the European Commission between 1973 and 1977. His contribution to European integration was crucial at a time when it still needed to be consolidated, said Barroso.
Ortoli had always been loyal to the European project, he said, adding the strength of his convictions and his intellectual integrity will remain for a long time in the collective memory of Europeans.
"Francois-Xavier Ortoli was a great French and a great European," said Barroso.
Ortoli held several ministerial portfolios in France before he became president of the European Commission. He was president of oil giant Total between 1984 and 1990. ¡¡