Reactions: Merkel: Gorbachev wrote world history

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has praised the Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev as "a unique world politician".

Reactions: Merkel: Gorbachev wrote world history

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has praised the Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev as "a unique world politician". "May the memory of his historic achievement make it possible to pause, especially during these terrible weeks and months of Russia's war against Ukraine," Merkel said in a statement published on her website.

It was with great sadness that she heard the news of Gorbachev's death, the former Chancellor continued. "Gorbachev wrote world history. He showed how a single statesman can change the world for the better," she added. Without Gorbachev's courage "in glasnost and perestroika, i.e. in openness and restructuring, the peaceful revolution in the GDR would not have been possible." Merkel wrote: "To this day I can still feel the fear I shared with many people in the GDR in 1989, whether tanks would roll again like they did in 1953, when we shouted 'We are the people' and later 'We are one people'. But this time - unlike in 1953 - no tanks rolled, no shots were fired." Instead, Gorbachev reproached the aging GDR leadership with the sentence "He who comes too late is punished by life."

In 1989/1990, Gorbachev no longer opposed the people's call for freedom in the GDR. "More than that, he allowed a reunified Germany to become a member of NATO." Unforgotten for her are the pictures of the meeting between him and the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU) in the Caucasus in 1990, with which the unity of Germany in peace and freedom became within reach. "Mikhail Gorbachev has also fundamentally changed my life. I will never forget it," declared Merkel.

Putin praises Gorbachev's reform efforts

Russia's head of state Vladimir Putin paid tribute to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday evening, for his reform efforts and humanitarian commitment. "Mikhail Gorbachev was a politician and statesman who had a tremendous influence on the course of world history," says the short telegram of condolences to the relatives published by the Kremlin on Wednesday.

Gorbachev led the country into a time of "dramatic changes" and recognized the great need for reform. Putin wrote that he tried to offer his solutions to the problem. In addition, the Russian President responded to Gorbachev's commitment after his tenure as head of state and party: "I would particularly like to emphasize the great humanitarian, charitable and educational work that Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev has carried out over the past few years," the letter says. The Nobel Peace Prize winner himself, who was 91 years old, had repeatedly criticized Putin for the restrictions on freedom and democracy in Russia during his lifetime.

Scholz: Democracy in Russia has failed

Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised the late Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev as a courageous reformer. The former Soviet head of state dared a lot, said Scholz on Wednesday at the sidelines of the cabinet meeting at Meseberg Castle in Brandenburg. His policies made it possible "that Germany could be united and the Iron Curtain has disappeared".

Thanks to Gorbachev, Russia was also able to attempt to establish a democracy. Now he died at a time "when not only did democracy in Russia fail," but when Russian President Vladimir Putin was also digging new rifts in Europe. "That's why we're thinking of Mikhail Gorbachev and we know how important he was for the development of Europe and our country in recent years," said Scholz.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) expressed Germany's eternal gratitude. "In moments of destiny in our history, Michael Gorbachev was guided by peace and understanding between people. The end of the Cold War and German unity are his legacy," she wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "We mourn the loss of a statesman to whom we are eternally grateful."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg paid tribute to the late Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev as a peacemaker and mediator. "Mikhail Gorbachev's historic reforms led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, helped end the Cold War and opened up the possibility of a partnership between Russia and NATO," the former Norwegian prime minister wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "His vision of a better world remains a role model."

Gorbachev died in the Russian capital on Tuesday evening at the age of 91. He had been the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1991 he resigned as Soviet President.

Statement by former Chancellor Merkel

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