Mikhail Gorbachev

Acceptance Speech


As the Laureate was unable to be present on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1990, the acceptance was read by Mr Andrej Kovaljov, First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union.


Your Majesty, Esteemed Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ladies and gentlemen,

I have been requested by the President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, to present his address to the Norwegian Nobel Committee and to all those present today at this award ceremony:

To the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Mrs. Gidske Anderson: Esteemed Mrs. Anderson,

I am deeply and personally moved by the decision of the Nobel Committee to award me the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize.

The prestige and authority of the Nobel Peace Prize are universally recognised. The prize has been awarded ever since the beginning of this century. The disasters and tragedies of this period, which have not managed to subdue man’s optimism and unflagging belief in human reason, have given the Peace Prize the unique aura associated with it today.

Immanuel Kant prophesied that mankind would one day be faced with a dilemma: either to be joined in a true union of nations or to perish in a war of annihilation ending in the extinction of the human race.’ Now, as we move from the second to the third millennium, the clock has struck the moment of truth.

In this respect, the year 1990 represents a turning point. It marks the end of the unnatural division of Europe. Germany has been reunited. We have begun resolutely to tear down the material foundations of a military, political and ideological confrontation. But there are some very grave threats that have not been eliminated: the potential for conflict and the primitive instincts which allow it, aggressive intentions, and totalitarian traditions.

I would like to assure you that the leadership of the USSR is doing and will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that future developments in Europe and the world as a whole are based on openness, mutual trust, international law and universal values.

The recent meeting in Paris of heads of state and government from the European nations, the United States and Canada, embodying all the best elements in international movements such as the Helsinki Process, has established the framework for a Europe based on the rule of law, stability, good relations between neighbouring countries and humane attitudes.’ It is my hope that such a Europe will be understood and accepted by nations and governments in other parts of the world as an example of universal security and genuine cooperation.

I do not regard the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize as an award to me personally, but as a recognition of what we call perestroika and innovative political thinking, which is of vital significance for human destinies all over the world.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 1990 confirms that perestroika and innovative political thinking no longer belong only to us, the people of the Soviet Union. They are the property of the whole of mankind and are an inseparable part of its destiny and of a safe, peaceful future. We are deeply grateful to Norway and other members of the international community who have shown such understanding and who, through their conduct in international issues and in their relations with the Soviet Union, have shown their solidarity as we proceed with our perestroika and their sympathy as we struggle to resolve our problems. If we all took this as our point of departure, mankind would have no cause to regret the loss of a unique opportunity for reason and the logic of peace to prevail over that of war and alienation.

Once more, I would like to express my appreciation for this very great honour. I intend to do everything in my power to live up to the expectations and hopes of my countrymen and all those who support the Nobel Committee’s choice.

With my sincere wishes for peace and prosperity,

Mikhail Gorbachev
President of the USSR

This was the address by the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1990, which I, as his personal representative, have had the honour of making on his behalf.

Thank you for your attention.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1981-1990, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1990

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