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Gorbachev: Aid key to "new world order'

Published Oct. 13, 2005

President Mikhail Gorbachev bluntly warned the West on Wednesday that hopes for a peaceful "new world order" depended on massive assistance to underwrite the Soviet Union's political and economic reforms, which he said are now at their most critical point. In his strongest appeal for aid, Gorbachev said the West was facing crucial decisions on whether to help the Soviet Union economically and thus promote further political cooperation or to lose the opportunity presented by perestroika to build a lasting peace.

In Paris, however, a gathering of the world's wealthiest nations warned Gorbachev Wednesday that he must produce a concrete program to turn his crumbling economy from central planning to free-market principles before they would discuss the massive aid package he wants.

"To me it is self-evident that if Soviet perestroika succeeds, there will be a real chance of building a new world order," Gorbachev said in a lecture he delivered here as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1990.

"And if perestroika fails, the prospect of entering a new peaceful period in history will vanish, at least for the foreseeable future."

Gorbachev was awarded the Peace Prize in October for helping to end the Cold War and allowing Eastern European states to break with the socialism that had been imposed on them after World War II by the Red Army.

But ethnic, economic and political problems prompted him to postpone his Nobel lecture from its original date of Dec. 10.

Those problems came back to haunt him in Oslo Wednesday. Two hecklers interrupted the speech and police arrested 30 people who staged protests against Gorbachev's refusal to allow the Soviet Baltic republics to secede.

Gorbachev's message was that for all the change he has brought about there is a price: the assistance the Soviet Union needs to progress with its reform program.

At the same time, he made clear that the Soviet Union would not accept demands that it model itself after the West as a condition for this assistance, but would instead pursue reforms without deviating from the character of the country.

"Applying conventional wisdom to perestroika is unproductive," he said. "It is also futile and dangerous to set conditions, to say, "We'll understand and believe you as soon as you, the Soviet Union, come completely to resemble us, the West.' "

Yet he acknowledged the concern of Western leaders that the billions of dollars of aid the Soviet Union wants will be wasted if spent on reforming rather than changing the system. Gorbachev said that as a part of an aid program his country must stabilize its "democratic process" within a "new constitutional structure," intensify and broaden economic reforms to establish a mixed, market economy and take "vigorous steps to open the country" to the world economy.

Soviet economists and some Americans advising them suggest the Soviet Union would need at least $15-billion a year and perhaps as much as $50-billion annually for five or six years.

"If we fail to reach an understanding regarding a new phase of cooperation, we will have to look for other ways, for time is of the essence," the Soviet leader said. "But if we are to move to that new phase, those who participate in and even shape world politics must continue to change, to review their philosophic perception of the changing realities of the world and of its imperatives," he said.

_ Information from the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press was used in this report.