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Statement from Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Mikhail Gorbachev

I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the most significant political figures of the late Twentieth Century.

At a time when the threat to the world of nuclear destruction was very real, he saw the urgent need for rapprochement with the west and for greater openness and reform - glasnost and perestroika - in the then Soviet Union. 

His leadership helped to end the arms race between the east and west, end the Cold War and bring down the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since the Second World War. 

That contributed directly to the enlargement of the European Union that came to fruition during Ireland’s 2004 Presidency of the EU.

There are very few figures who can be said to have truly changed the world. Mikhail Gorbachev was one.

He will long be remembered.