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Jacques Delors and Mikhail Gorbachev

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 1989

This award to Jacques Delors and to Mikhail Gorbachev for their efforts over recent years.

Jacques Delors

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Considered the architect of the Single European Act, the first amendment to the Treaty of Rome, and the ambitious reform of the funding of the European Community, Jacques Delors (Paris, France, 1925 - 2023) was one of the most influential politicians in the formation of the Europe of the Nineties. A graduate in Economics, with a diploma from the Centre for Higher Banking Studies, he began his professional career at the Bank of France (1945-1962), later serving as planning, social and cultural affairs advisor (until 1971). During this period, he alternated his institutional role with teaching, first at France’s prestigious National School of Administration (1963-64 and 1974-76) and later at the University of Paris-Dauphine (1973-79). In 1975, he took over as head of the Travail et Société (Work and Society) research centre.

In December 1974 Delors became a member of the French socialist party, and was elected as a Euro-MP in the first direct elections in 1979; as a representative in the Assembly of the European Community he came to hold the presidency of the Economic Commission. In François Mitterand's first government, in may 1981, he was appointed Minister of Economy and Finance - a post he held for one parliamentary term.

On the 5th January 1985 he succeeded the Luxembourger Gaston Thorn to the presidency of the European Commission, the bureaucratic and executive organ of the European Community. When Delors was posted to this European organization he initially considered it as the wilderness; it was a widespread opinion among Continental leaders that the European Commission was just a set of personalities with neither face nor spirit. A few months after occupying the presidency, Jacques Delors made it into the true executive arm of the Community. The Single European Act was passed in 1989, the European Community financial systems was reinforced by means of the White Paper for a single internal market, the Treaty of Adhesion was signed with Spain and Portugal, the European Social Charter, the consolidation of the single European currency and the harmonization of indirect taxation were set running. The work of Delors at the head of the European Commission has been essential for all these measures to be adopted, and not only has it made the overall working of the Community more dynamic, but it has meant a major renewal of its structures.

Delors' activity within the European Community has been governed by two essential ideas: reinforcing its institutions, which involves reinforcing the powers of the European Commission, which he presides, and establishing a politically solid internal currency, and the EC´s social dimension. These ideas have been captured in works such as Social Indicators (1971), Change (1975) and Get out or not (1985), where he propounds his ideas on political economy. Other books he has published include L’éducation: un trésor est caché dedans (1996), Combat pour l’Europe (1996) and Mémoires (2004).

Among many other international distinctions, in 1995 he received the Carlos V European Award from the European Academy of Yuste and in 1998 the X International Catalonia Prize.

Mikhail Gorbachev

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Mikhail Gorbachev's (Privolnoye, Soviet Union, 1931 - Moscow, Russia, 2022) mandate ushered in the opening up of the Soviet Union, the end of the cold war, the strengthening of relations with the West and the democratisation of Russia itself and the whole of Eastern Europe. He also played a part in reconciliation with China.

He got his degree in 1955. Three years earlier he had joined the Communist Party, beginning to leave his mark as a leader when he returned to his village, where he held several different posts. He was elected secretary of the territorial committee of the regional party in 1970; that same year he was elected to the Soviet of Union of the Supreme Soviet and became a member of the Commission for Natural Resources. In 1971 Gorbachov was appointed member of the Communist Party Central Committee; three years later he held the presidency of the Commission for Youth Affairs of the Supreme Soviet. On the death of Kulakov, the Minister of Agriculture, Gorbachov was elected to take over, instigating a programme of reforms, including massive investment in agriculture, during his mandate.

He was elected member of the Politburo and secretary of the Central Committee in 1980, on Kruschev's death. Andropov handed him far-reaching powers to supervise the country's economic policy and exert influence on the party's internal politics. In 1984, he rose to second in command in the regime, in the aftermath of Andropov's death, of the presentation of Chernenko as candidate to General Secretary of the party, and of his own appointment as president of the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet of Union.

On March 11th 1985 Mijail Gorbachov succeeded Chernenko as the head of government, immediately ringing the changes that were later to go by the name of the 'perestroika'. Gorbachov dismissed one in three ministers, sacked 40% of regional party secretaries, and changed half of the department heads in the Central Committee. At the same time, he promoted the candidature of Andrei Gromiko as head of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, breaking with the tradition that reserved the post for the general secretary of the Communist Party. From the outset, his policy was to improve the Soviet Union's image abroad, whilst also bringing radical improvement to the country's social structures with a view to its modernisation. His greatest successes in foreign policy are the arms reduction treaties signed with the Americans, first with the Reagan administration and later with President George Bush. Further agreements have meant the end of the so-called 'cold war', and have been decisive in providing international politics with a new sense of direction. Under Gorbachov, the concept of Eastern and Western blocks has lost all meaning.

On October 1st 1988, Gorbachov was elected chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. On 25th May 1989, the members of the People's Congress named him president, thereby giving him the country's backing for his actions. In 1987 his efforts to improve the Soviet Union's international relations received recognition in the guise of the Indira Gandhi Prize for peace, disarmament and development, and three years later the Swedish Academy recognised his work in favour of world peace by awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize. His high profile abroad contrasts, however, with the situation within the Soviet Union; crippled by a serious economic crisis, it would prefer a return to its closed shop policy.

After a failed run for the Presidency in 1996, Gorbachev established the Social Democratic Party of Russia, which was a union between several Russian Social Democratic parties. He resigned as leader of the party in May 2004 after a disagreement with the party’s chairman regarding the running of the 2003 election campaign. The party was subsequently banned by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in 2007 due to its inability to establish local offices with at least 500 members in most regions of Russia, a prerequisite in Russian law for a political organization to be classified as a party. At the end of that same year, Gorbachev founded a new political party called the Union of Social Democrats.

In September 2008, Gorbachev announced that he was going to make a return to Russian politics, together with the former KGB agent, Alexander Lébedev. His party is known as the Independent Democratic Party of Russia. He is also co-owner of the opposition newspaper Nóvaya Gazeta.

Gorbachev is the author of several books on politics, among others, Perestroika (1988), The August Coup: The Truth and the Lessons (1991) and Memoirs (1996). He currently chairs the International Non-Governmental Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (The Gorbachev Foundation). He created this foundation, based in San Francisco, in 1992 and later Green Cross International, via which he became one of the three main sponsors of the Earth Charter. He also became a member of the Club of Rome and the Club of Madrid.

In 2002, he received the Carlos V European Award from the Prince of Asturias at the Monastery of Yuste, in Extremadura. He won a Grammy Award in 2004, along with Bill Clinton and Sophia Loren, in the category of Best Spoken Album for Children for the narration of the story “Peter and the Wolf”. Five years later, in 2009, he released Songs for Raísa, an album of romantic ballads to raise funds for a charity dedicated to his late wife. Gorbachev sings the songs on the album accompanied by Russian musician Andréi Makarévich.

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