8 November 2014
Mikhail Gorbachev’s remarks at the Symposium of the New Policy Forum
The experience of the 1980s testifies that, even in apparently hopeless situations, there has to be a way out. The situation in the world was then no less urgent and dangerous than now. Yet, we succeeded in reversing it – not just normalizing relations but putting an end to confrontation and the cold war. Political leaders of that period can rightly take credit for that.
This was achieved primarily through the resumption of dialogue.
Negative tendencies can and must be stopped and reversed. The key to it is political will and the correct setting of priorities.
Today, the foremost priority should be renewal of dialogue, regaining the ability to interact and to listen to and hear each other.
First signs of a renewed dialogue have now emerged. The first, albeit modest and fragile results have been achieved. I am referring to the Minsk agreements on cease-fire and military disengagement in Ukraine, trilateral gas agreements between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union, and the suspension of the escalation of mutual sanctions.
In this context I want to urge you to consider carefully Vladimir Putin’s recent remarks at the Valdai Forum. Despite the harshness of his criticism of the West and of the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership.
We must – and the sooner we do it the better – move from polemics and mutual accusations to a search for points of convergence and a gradual lifting of sanctions, which are damaging to both sides. As a first step, the so-called personal sanctions that affect political figures and parliamentarians should be lifted so that they could join the process of seeking mutually acceptable solutions.
One of the areas for interaction could be helping Ukraine to overcome the consequences of fratricidal war and rebuild the affected regions.