The Korea Herald


Gorbachev lauds ailing Mandela

By Korea Herald

Published : Sept. 5, 2013 - 19:57

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GENEVA (AFP) ― Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Wednesday lauded ailing Nelson Mandela as an icon of the global drive for democracy, after his South African fellow Nobel laureate was discharged from hospital.

“He made a tremendous contribution. And this says it all. No more, no less. Tremendous is the word to characterize him,” said Gorbachev, whose role in ending the Cold War two decades ago won him the Nobel Peace Prize.

“He made a tremendous contribution by taking a political position on democracy, on transition to democracy, a moral stance,” Gorbachev said in an interview with AFP and the Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve.

“I regard him as a great man,” the 82-year-old added, as he wrapped up a visit to Geneva to mark the 20th anniversary of his Green Cross environmental foundation.

Mandela, 95, was discharged at the weekend after nearly three months in hospital with respiratory illness.

His persistent health problems are said to date back to the 27 years he spent in the jails of apartheid-era South Africa. He was released in 1990.

Mandela is admired across the globe for his lifelong struggle against South Africa’s brutal regime of racial segregation installed in 1948.

He is also revered for his role in bringing multiracial democracy to South Africa ― a country many feared would disintegrate into civil war following the collapse of apartheid ― and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he served one four-year term.

Gorbachev, meanwhile, came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985 and went on to launch his “glasnost” and “perestroika” reforms to bring more democracy to his communist country.

They paved the way for the end of the Cold War by ending Moscow’s grip in eastern Europe in 1989, winning Gorbachev the Nobel in 1990, a year before he lost power when the Soviet Union itself crumbled.