“When countries outside Europe and the United States criticize us, we understand that,” Gorbachev said through an interpreter April 28, 2012, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. “But when countries like the United States or Great Britain criticize Russia, we point out that it took your countries hundreds of years to develop the modern democracy, so you should give us a little more time.”
Gorbachev, who received the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in opening the Soviet economy and ending the Cold War, said Russia has made rapid progress in recent decades. “We are perhaps halfway, or perhaps a little more than halfway, down the path of that transition,” he said.
Thunderbird Interim President Barbara Barrett used her clout as a former Ronald Reagan appointee to help bring Gorbachev to Arizona. Barrett also served as U.S. ambassador to Finland during the George W. Bush administration.
Other event sponsors included the O’Connor House, Arizona State University, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and Eight, Arizona PBS. Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and ASU President Emeritus Lattie Coor represented their organizations on stage with Barrett and Gorbachev.