From the Interfax News Agency, April 2, 2020:
Former USSR President calls for revision of world agenda under the influence of the coronavirus pandemic
Moscow. April 2 INTERFAX.RU – The first and only President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev answered the questions of the special correspondent of Interfax Vyacheslav Terekhov and called for a revision of the world agenda under the influence of the coronavirus pandemic.
– Mikhail Sergeyevich, how did you perceive the reports of the pandemic?
– I think I took them, like most people. At first, there was a hope that it would be possible to take control, to localize it. Everything turned out quite differently. Events have taken an all-embracing character. Unprecedented measures and decisions were required. Both leaders, and citizens, and international organizations were in a very difficult position. All this will need to be understood, but now the main thing is to cope with the situation, to defeat the new insidious enemy.
– How do you assess the measures taken?
– In the first place should be the issue of security, preservation of people’s lives.
I assume that the measures taken are based on the data of science, on the requirements of the most qualified experts. Now they have almost the same opinion – the strictest quarantine is required. And this should be considered by both the authorities and citizens. A lot depends on the people themselves. Need the highest responsibility and discipline. Then it will be possible to hope that the worst will be avoided.
– Is it time for some conclusions for the future? Do you agree that the world will not be the same?
– It depends on what conclusions will be made. In this connection, I return to the history of our struggle against nuclear danger. We realized that this is our common enemy, a common threat. And then the leaders of the two countries, the USSR and the USA, declared that a nuclear war was unacceptable and there could be no winner. Reykjavik followed, followed by the first treaties on the elimination of nuclear weapons. To date, 85% of those nuclear arsenals have been destroyed. We must continue along this path. But we see that new challenges have been added.
Together with associates of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Forum, we have long been calling for a radical revision of the foundations of world politics.
Here is one of our appeals, adopted back in 2005: “The basis of security should be priority attention to the urgent needs of people and respect for every human life. Instead of exorbitant military expenses that only undermine security, it is necessary to direct the funds of the international community to solve the problems of education and health, in particular the fight against AIDS and tuberculosis through measures of protection and prevention. ” What is there to add? Only the name of a new terrible disease.
Over the past five years, we have only heard that talking about weapons, missiles, strikes … But is it really not clear that wars and the arms race do not solve the current global problems? War is a defeat, a failure of politics! The common misfortune reminded us: it makes no sense to rely on what you can hide in, sit out somewhere, that you can ignore any threats. No one else can hide!
And while I have the strength, I will repeat: the demilitarization of world politics, international relations, political thinking is necessary. Reallocate budgets – from military objectives to goals related to human security.
The very concept of security must be rethought! Safety is first of all providing people with food, water that is already scarce, a healthy environment and, of course, the absolute priority of people’s health. For the sake of human security, we need to develop a strategy, prepare, plan, create reserves. For this should be the responsibility of state leaders, leaders at all levels.
I believe that it is necessary to start preparing an emergency session of the UN General Assembly and hold it as soon as the situation stabilizes. It should be a complete revision of the world agenda.
– Can I ask what has changed for you personally and for the Gorbachev Foundation now?
– Of course, we comply with everything, I had to switch to remote work. I communicate with colleagues on the phone, created a platform on the Internet for discussion. We will get used to the new conditions.
I was asked to write an additional chapter for the English edition of my book, The Future of Global Peace. Of course, taking into account what is happening. I agreed, I will do this.
Jonathan Granoff is the President of the Global Security Institute, a representative to United Nations of the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates, a former Adjunct Professor of International Law at Widener University School of Law, and Senior Advisor to the Committee on National Security American Bar Association International Law Section.