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The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all  faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance.

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9 October 2007

Gorbachev: World Should Embrace Globalization

     Countries throughout the world should embrace globalization and explore new ideas on how to overcome challenges including security, poverty and environmental damage, Mikhail Gorbachev told more than 1,000 people at the University of Texas-Pan American on Tuesday.
     «Everything will hinge on how we use globalization», he said through an interpreter.
     The Nobel laureate and former Soviet leader’s speech began the university’s Distinguished Speakers series for the 2007-08 school year.
     Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union from 1985 until its collapse in 1991, has visited various places throughout the United States in the past couple of weeks, including New Orleans, where he toured communities wrecked by Hurricane Katrina. He spoke at the University of Dallas on Monday.
     In his speech at UTPA, he recounted his political career and talked about how the Soviet Union was undergoing transition after the death of Stalin and began to reach out to other countries. He also discussed Russia’s gradual democratization after the fall of the Soviet Union.
     Moving toward democracy takes time, he said. He criticized Western countries, including the United States, for applauding Russia’s transition to democracy while it was in economic and political turmoil shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and for their later criticism of Russia when it began to gain strength.
     «We in Russia do not appreciate this», he said.
     After his speech, Gorbachev answered questions from members of the audience, ranging from what he thinks about current conditions in Cuba and forgiving the debts of poorer nations, to whether he sees any similarities between the former Soviet Union and China’s rise as a world leader.
     One man asked Gorbachev his opinion about the proposed fence along the U.S. border with Mexico.
     «Well, I am not going to repeat what President Reagan once said, but I think … the Great Wall of China or the Berlin Wall … have not been very effective, not particularly efficient», Gorbachev said.
     He also said that even a country as great as the United States doesn’t have all the money in the world, so «why spend money on this kind of thing?»
     The university’s Distinguished Speakers series is set to continue next month with radio show host, lawyer and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The series, in its fourth year, is funded through student activities fees but is free and open to the public.