The following are excerpts from a speech given by Mikhail Gorbachev, president of Green Cross International and the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and former President of the Soviet Union, at a Wilson Center Director's Forum cosponsored by Green Cross International* on 7 December 1999.

...In many parts of the world today, people are speaking in defense of their history, of their culture, and of their national sovereignty. This is a reaction to globalization. They're afraid that globalization will steamroll everything, will oversimplify the world, [that] they'll have a situation when there is one built according to one standard.

If we agree that a world built according to one model is a utopia, if we agree that [this] cannot be imposed on the world, then the question is: what should we do, how should we act? And then the question is: what kind of new world order?

I was asked what I think about the fact that the United States is withholding its debt to the United Nations. What is my evaluation? I believe this is a question of rather secondary importance. The most important question is this: does the United States want to preserve the United Nations, the U.N. Security Council, the European security system and operation system, or ...does the United States dismiss all those organizations?

My own view, maybe not the view of the Gorbachev Foundation, but my personal view is that after the disappearance of the Soviet Union from the global arena, many countries--including, unfortunately, the United States of America--have found themselves tempted to play geopolitical games.

And it is obvious now, after Yugoslavia and after the military victory of NATO, after the discrediting of the UN, of the Security Council, of the European cooperation system, after Europe was cut down to size, after Russia was intercepted [sic], and China and India's views were rejected, it became quite clear, I think, to all of us that this is not what we need.

...Let me recall for you, when we ended the cold war, when we united Germany, when we were preparing the Vienna agreements on arms control, we said that NATO and the Warsaw Pact would become political rather than military organizations.

And there were several important conferences. You remember the London declaration of NATO. I will not now digest all of that for your benefit, but that process was under way, ...initiated by the Soviet Union as the summit meeting to end the cold war and to think about the future of the world and of Europe. And fifty-four countries, including the Soviet Union and the United States, signed the Charter of Paris, a political platform for a new Europe and a new world.

When the Soviet Union disappeared, what happened? Geopolitical games. And we are now paying the price for that.

I think it is good that...some people in Western countries reacted very sharply to this. For example, Professor Samuel Huntington, a leading international scholar from Harvard University, wrote in April that the United States, having become the sole remaining superpower, without a counterpart in the world, has been engaged in irresponsible politics....

Anyway, my friends, I think that we are now in a situation when we must draw conclusions, and I am sure that no G-7, or G-8, or G-22, or G-34 can solve the problem of global governments, the problem of ...balancing interests.

We need a reformed United Nations, a reformed UN Security Council, and other institutions that support processes in Europe, Asia, Africa, everywhere, based on equality, based on mutual respect, rather then on the imposition of the stronger....

And I've been encouraged recently when I saw initially how the Istanbul summit was being prepared. The Istanbul summit was a very important meeting.

The initial idea was to record in the Istanbul documents some of the points that NATO adopted in Washington, and that is that NATO is the leading organization for maintaining security in Europe. Instead, in Istanbul, they agreed that all European nations are responsible for European security, that security systems in Europe will be all European, that the institutions will be all European.

...Perhaps I am overemphasizing the importance of the Istanbul document, but it's a good sign. It's something of a sign that we are coming back to our senses, that after Yugoslavia and some other things we're beginning to understand what needs to be done. Ten years after the Charter of Paris was adopted, it is again now mentioned. It was mentioned in the Istanbul declaration instead of becoming toilet paper, as some people wanted to make it.

I think that the attitude taken in Istanbul toward Russia by the president of the United States of America was a balanced attitude and I believe that it deserves our attention. It means that something is changing for [the] better. Perhaps it is a process of rethinking that is happening.

*Green Cross International was founded by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993. Its mission is to help create a sustainable future by promoting a significant change in human values leading to greater respect and care for Earth's community of life in all its diversity.