Foreword by President Michail Gorbachev
Serving Individuals and Humanity
I wholeheartedly introduce this book and this man. Vladimir Petrovsky was a prominent figure of our time. A diplomat, a politician, a humanistic thinker, he combined service for the welfare of his Motherland with concern for the future of all humanity. At the very beginning of his career, he had the opportunity to become acquainted with the issues handled by the United Nations. He ended his work as a diplomat after occupying, for a decade, the second most important position in the administration of the world organization, that of Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
I myself got to know Vladimir Fyodorovich very closely during the period of perestroika in our country when, in 1986, he became Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR. Those were the times of renewal in our diplomatic service because of the ambitious new goals our country had set for itself. Its foreign policy changed profoundly. A transition to a new kind of political thinking was needed. This requirement was a logical consequence of the internal perestroika. It was not possible to implement plans for modernization, for transfer to using new technologies, and promote new economic relationships without building up international cooperation. Another incentive for the new political thinking was the awareness of the scale of the nuclear threat, which could bring humankind to the verge of extinction. It was no coincidence that at that time experts and politicians engaged in an animated discussion about the establishment of a new world order. Its governing principle would be policymaking based on the balance of interests and the development of cooperation, rather than on force and the imposition of vested interests on others.
To meet the emerging challenges there was a need not just for experienced and highly qualified diplomats, but for people who were able to think openly, to understand the shifting reality and to promptly respond to change—people who were ready for an open dialogue, able to listen to counterparts and to defend their country’s position firmly. In his work, Vladimir Petrovsky brilliantly demonstrated all these qualities. He was highly appreciated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he enjoyed the absolute trust of its top officials. What is more, he gained authority among politicians and diplomats from other countries, as well as leaders of international organizations. The book contains tributes to him by several UN Secretaries-General, and such expressions of admiration speak for themselves.
Mr. Petrovsky can be fairly called one of the best executors and promoters of his country’s policies. But his role extends further. He was oneof the creators and initiators of perestroika foreign policy, the policy of the new thinking. For him, it was not an opportunistic choice. When perestroika, by force of circumstances, suddenly ended, he never stopped believing that the main tenets of the new thinking were right. After I resigned as President of the USSR, and following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we met several times at international conferences, and we did not have any serious differences of opinion. Our common position on environmental issues brought us only closer together. The Green Cross International, an environmental organization I established, with headquarters in Geneva, enjoyed Vladimir Petrovsky’s full support while he was head of the UN Office at Geneva. Vladimir Fyodorovich’s range of interests was extremely broad. He kept in touch with many non-governmental organizations across the globe. He was also a friend of Sri Chinmoy, head of the UN Peace Meditations, whom I knew very well, too. While thinking about the future of the world, Mr. Petrovsky would search for, and find, new inspiration in the people’s wisdom.
This book includes examples of Vladimir Petrovsky’s richness of thought and quite a few kind words about him, shared by people who had a chance to collaborate with him or just meet him. I recommend that everyone who cares about the fate of people and the fate of humanity read this book most attentively. A really wonderful man, Vladimir Petrovsky, will remain with us—thanks, among other things, to this book.