BRUSSELS, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- European Union(EU) chiefs on Sunday expressed condolences over the passing of Former Portuguese President Mario Soares, praising his role in championing the country's accession to the bloc.
"I remember the major role that Mario Soares played in consolidating the Portuguese democracy -- as the first constitutionally elected Prime Minister and as President of Republic -- and in championing the Portuguese accession to the European Communities," European Council President Donald Tusk said in a letter of condolences to Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also offered condolences in a statement. "Soares made a key contribution to rendering the process of democratization irreversible. A process that would spread across the South of Europe and that placed Portugal, as well as Spain and Greece, on the path to accession to the European Union, an anchor for those democratic values," Juncker said.
Soares died Saturday at the age of 92, two weeks after he was admitted to a hospital in the capital Lisbon.
Soares died of respiratory complications that left him in a profound coma at Red Cross hospital in Lisbon since Dec. 13, 2016.
Sores was widely known in Portugal as one of the founding fathers of the country's democracy after a bloodless coup on Apirl 25, 1974, when the dictatorship of Oliveira Salazar was overthrown.
He served as president from 1986 to 1996 and prime minister from 1976 to 1978 and from 1983 to 1985.
He also served as foreign minister and an MP of the European Parliament. When he served as minister of foreign affairs he negotiated the Portuguese entry in what is today the European Union.