Russian society is heading towards democracy and prosperity, said ex-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev during a visit to Graz, the center of the Austrian province of Styria and the city the European Union has proclaimed the Cultural Capital of Europe of 2003.
Siegfried Nagel, the Burgomaster of Graz, emphasized that "all Europeans must be grateful" to Gorbachev and ex-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who had "turned European development into an optimal course," "opened the gates of Europe" and "made integration processes in the Old World irreversible." He also called Gorbachev and Kohl "true architects of German unity." On his part, Mikhail Gorbachev observed that true democracy had to rest on citizens' initiatives and that citizens had to take an active part in democratic processes and reforms. Russia, a country whose society heads towards democracy and prosperity, takes all that into consideration, he added.
By the end of his visit, Gorbachev had his name entered into the Golden Book of the city's honorable guests.