(Ottawa) Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was a “great man” who would be “deeply missed” by the world stage.
Posted at 6:29
Mr. Gorbachev, who carried out the drastic reforms during his seven years in power that paved the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, died Tuesday in a Moscow hospital at the age of 91.
Former Prime Minister Mulroney said in an interview that while US President Ronald Reagan is widely credited with ending the Cold War without firing a shot, tango requires two, and that Mr. Gorbachev was an indispensable leader on the other side.
“President Gorbachev will go down in history as an outstanding leader and a man who did so much for humanity,” he said.
The former head of the Canadian government says he first met Gorbachev in March 1985 and found him a breath of fresh air compared to the “strangled, dull, unsightly” Soviet leaders so accustomed to.
“He was charming and straightforward, attentive, and you could tell at the time that he wanted to do business,” Mulroney said.
He recalls meeting President Reagan a few days later in Quebec and telling him he expected Mikhail Gorbachev to be an excellent interlocutor.
“I said, ‘You know, Ron, there’s a new player here. He’s definitely a guy we’ll be able to live with and get things done.” »
President Gorbachev’s approach to diplomacy contrasts sharply with “the weak war leadership you see in Moscow today,” according to Brian Mulroney. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is “the exact opposite of what Gorbachev wanted.”
In 1990, President Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Cold War and easing nuclear tensions, but he faced derision at home when the Soviet Union collapsed.
Exhausted by an attempted coup against him in August 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev spent his final months in power watching one republic after another declare independence, until he resigned on December 25.
At the end of his reign, he was powerless to stop the whirlwind he had planted. However, Mikhail Gorbachev probably had more influence on the second half of the twentieth century than any other political figure.
“I see myself as a man who launched the necessary reforms for the country, for Europe, and for the world,” Mikhail Gorbachev told the Associated Press in a 1992 interview shortly after his departure.
“It is often asked, would I have started over if I had to do it all over again? Yes. And with more persistence and determination.”
His 1996 presidential run was a national joke in Russia. He received less than 1% of the vote. In 1997, he turned to directing a TV ad for Pizza Hut to raise money for his charity.
But he was welcomed outside Russia and Brian Mulroney said they deepened their friendship. In recent years, they met in Houston, New York or Montreal.
“I loved him a lot personally. We had a great personal relationship,” he said. “I witnessed the wonderful relationship he has with his wife and family. He was, in my opinion, a great man. »