Mikhail Gorbachev: UN chief greets ‘unique statesman who changed the course of history’


António Guterres said he was deeply saddened to hear the news of his death in Moscow, announced by Russia’s state news agencies, which reported that he had passed away after a “long and serious illness”.

Mr. Guterres expressed his sincere condolences to the entire Gorbachev family, and to the people and government of the Russian Federation.

‘Towering world leader’

The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist and tireless advocate for peace.”

Mr. Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985, when nuclear tensions between East and West were still running high, with a reform program to revitalize the economy and modernize the political system, adopting the policies of “perestroika” and “glasnost”. or openness.

He ended the Cold War by successfully negotiating with U.S. President Ronald Reagan to abolish an entire class of missiles through the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and disintegrate it. Warsaw Pact, the Soviet rule of Eastern Europe, and ultimately the Soviet Union itself, all in just six years.

Nobel Prize

In 1990, he was internationally acclaimed but increasingly criticized at home and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leading role in “radical changes in East-West relations,” the judges said.

The Secretary-General noted in his statement that when accepting the award, he “remarked that ‘peace is not unity in equality, but unity in diversity’.” He put this essential insight into practice by following the path of negotiation, reform, transparency and disarmament.”

Gorbachev faced a coup d’état in 1991 initiated by hard-line communist elements and was arrested while vacationing on the Black Sea, but then-Moscow party leader Boris Yeltsin effectively ended the Soviet-backed regime. uprising in the capital, ushering in Mr. Gorbachev’s retirement, and the final dissolution of the USSR.

UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata

Mikhail Gorbachev (l), former president of the Soviet Union, visits UN headquarters in 1988 and hands UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar a gift to the United Nations.

Taken on new challenges

Mr. Guterres said that in his later years, Mr. Gorbachev took on “a new challenge that is just as important for the well-being of humanity: to create a sustainable future by cultivating harmonious relationships between humans and the environment. In that spirit, he founded Green Cross International.”

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