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Gorbachev warns against walls of mistrust in Europe

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As Germany and the rest of the world prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned against creating new barriers between nations.

MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti) - As Germany and the rest of the world prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned against creating new barriers between nations.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Gorbachev, who presided over the breakup of the Soviet Union, said 1989 was a turning point in world history, which saw the wall's collapse and velvet revolutions that toppled communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe.

"Those events and their peaceful nature were possible after changes that began to take place in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s," Gorbachev, the architect of sweeping reforms known as glasnost and perestroika, said in an article published by the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily on Friday.

Gorbachev said the U.S.S.R. then abandoned its domineering policy toward Soviet-bloc states leaving them to decide their future, which helped avoid bloodshed during ensuing revolts, the paper reported.

However, Gorbachev said nations failed to create viable security arrangements after the end of the Cold War and new "separation lines" appeared in Europe, which was rocked by bloody wars.

"Mistrust and old stereotypes have been preserved. Russia is suspected of malicious, aggressive, imperial intentions," Gorbachev said, condemning the policy of confrontation with Russia pursued by former communist-bloc states and attempts to draw a parallel between the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

"Those who want to build a new wall of mutual mistrust and hostility in Europe are doing a disservice to their countries and Europe as a whole," Gorbachev said.

The former Soviet leader also said the European Union had rushed to expand, admitting former communist states without forging a clear model of relations with Russia and other states outside the alliance.

He also criticized the attitudes of certain Western politicians to Russia's rebirth after the chaotic post-Soviet years.

"In Europe, unfortunately, there is no lack of politicians who would like to see an unequal model of relations with Russia - one of the teacher and the student, the prosecutor and the accused. Russia will not accept this model. It wants to be understood. We are for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation," he said.

"What Russia do you need?" he asked. "A strong, entirely self-sufficient one or a simple supplier of resources that knows its place?"

 

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