Tuesday, 27 September, 2022

World hails ‘one-of-a-kind’ leader

PARIS:  World leaders paid tribute to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union who died Tuesday in Moscow aged 91, reports AFP.

The man who played a major role in ending the Cold War was praised for being a rare leader who helped change the course of world history.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his deep sympathies, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies soon after his death was announced.

Peskov added that Putin, a former KGB agent who had an ambiguous relationship with Gorbachev, would send a telegram of condolences to the late leader's family and friends on Wednesday.

US President Joe Biden hailed as a rare leader who made the world safer.

These were the acts of a rare leader -- one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it, Biden said.

The result was a safer world and greater freedom for millions of people.

Germany remains bound in gratitude with him for his decisive contribution to German unity, in respect with his courage to open the path to democracy and build bridges between east and west, and in remembrance of his great vision of a peaceful European home, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed Gorbachev's role in reuniting Germany but lamented he had died at a time in which democracy has failed in Russia.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said, “His desire for peace, his opposition to an imperialist vision of Russia won him the Nobel (peace) prize.”

These messages are all the more current in the face of the tragedy of the invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, UN chief Antonio Guterres said a one-of-a-kind statesman who changed the course of history and did more than any other individual to bring about the peaceful end of the Cold War.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed a trusted and respected leader who opened the way for a free Europe.

His crucial role in bringing down the Iron Curtain and ending the Cold War left a legacy we will not forget, she tweeted.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Gorbachev's vision of a better world remains an example and paid tribute to his historic reforms... (which) opened the possibility of a partnership between Russia and NATO.

Beijing paid tribute to Gorbachev for making positive contributions to the normalisation of Sino-Soviet relations.

We mourn his death and express our condolences to his family, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he always admired the courage and integrity Gorbachev showed to help end the Cold War.

In a time of Putin's aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all, he said.

France President Emmanuel Macron described Gorbachev as a man of peace, saying he opened a path of liberty for Russians. His commitment to peace in Europe changed our shared history.

Israel President Isaac Herzog, in a statement, said Mikhail Gorbachev was one of the 20th century's most extraordinary figures.

He was a brave and visionary leader, who shaped our world in ways previously thought unimaginable.

Norway Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store wrote on Twitter, “Upon the passing of Mikhail Gorbachev we remember a courageous leader who left his distinct mark on history by choosing reforms over oppression.”

Sweden Foreign Minister Ann Linde said Gorbachev inspired her in her youth, offering a hope for another future away from the repression and Cold War.

He made a difference. So immensely sad the present leader is taking the opposite way, she wrote on Twitter.

The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Gorbachev had contributed decisively to ending the Cold War and to making Europe and the world a place with more peace and freedom.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted that the work had lost a courageous reformer whose impact on world history was immense.