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Merkel says Gorbachev fundamentally changed her life

The former German Chancellor emphasized that Mikhail Gorbachev allowed a reunified Germany to become a member of NATO

BERLIN, August 31. /TASS/. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the first and last president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev "a unique world politician."

Gorbachev, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, "wrote world history." "He exemplified how a single statesman can change the world for the better," Merkel said, noting that it was with great sadness that she heard the news of Gorbachev's death.

"Mikhail Gorbachev also fundamentally changed my life. I will never forget that," said the former chancellor, who grew up in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Without Gorbachev's courage "to pursue glasnost and perestroika, i.e. openness and restructuring, the peaceful revolution in the GDR would not have been possible either," Merkel noted.

"To this day I can still feel the fear that I shared with many people in the GDR in 1989, whether tanks would roll again like they did in 1953, when we shouted 'We are the people' and later 'We are one people'. But this time - unlike in 1953 - no tanks rolled, no shots were fired."

Gorbachev no longer opposed the people's call for freedom in the GDR. "More than that, he allowed a reunified Germany to become a member of NATO."

Mikhail Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union in 1985-1991, passed away in Moscow on August 30 at the age of 91.