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Margaret Thatcher death: Tributes, criticism from around the world

April 08, 2013|By Emily Alpert

In Britain and around the world, supporters of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher celebrated her legacy Monday. Even some of her sharpest critics said she defined an era in British public life -- if not always for the right reasons.

Among those who have already offered their reflections are President Obama, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the African National Congress of South Africa and Sinn Fein of Northern Ireland.

Here are more thoughts from world leaders, political activists and other figures:

British Prime Minister David Cameron: “As our first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher succeeded against all the odds, and the real thing about Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t just lead our country, she saved our country. I believe she’ll go down as the greatest British peacetime prime minister.”

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev: “[Our relations] were complicated sometimes, not always fair, but serious and responsible on both parts … We managed to achieve mutual understanding after all and that made a contribution in the improvement of the atmosphere between our country and the West and in the ending of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher was a big-time politician and a bright personality.”

PHOTOS: Margaret Thatcher | 1925 - 2013

Former President Jimmy Carter: “A principled leader, she was a strong ally for peace and human rights during my presidency. As prime minister, her government was in the forefront of those who stood with the United States on key concerns, including the need for the SALT [Strategic Arms Limitation Talks] treaty, a stronger NATO alliance, majority rule in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and efforts to bring the Iran hostages home peacefully.”

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan: “It is well known that my husband and Lady Thatcher enjoyed a very special relationship as leaders of their respective countries during one of the most difficult and pivotal periods in modern history. Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end communism. As prime minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to 'rock the boat.' As a result, she helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of millions of people.”

British Labor Party Leader Ed Miliband: “She moved the center ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage. The Labor Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.”

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny: “Mrs. Thatcher was a formidable political leader who had a significant impact on British, European and world politics. During her 11 years as prime minister, she defined an era in British public life. While her period of office came at a challenging time for British-Irish relations, when the violent conflict in Northern Ireland was at its peak, Mrs. Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement which laid the foundation for improved North-South cooperation and ultimately the Good Friday Agreement.”

Former London Mayor Ken Livingston told Sky News: “She didn’t build any housing. She created today’s housing crisis; she created the banking crisis; she created the benefits crisis ... Every real problem we face today is the legacy of the fact that she was fundamentally wrong."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: “With the passing of Baroness Thatcher, the world has lost a giant among leaders. … With the success of her economic policies, she defined contemporary conservatism itself. Her greatest achievements, however, were surely on the world stage. Along with the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, and His Holiness Pope John Paul II, she played a key role in the fall of the USSR. The era of peace and prosperity that followed the end of the Cold War must therefore rank as one of her great and lasting gifts to this generation.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "She was truly a great leader, a woman of principle, of determination, of conviction, of strength; a woman of greatness. She was a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish people. She inspired a generation of political leaders.”

British National Union of Mineworkers General Secretary Chris Kitchen, according to the Guardian: "We've been waiting for a long time to hear the news of Baroness Thatcher's demise and I can't say I'm sorry. I've got no sympathy for Margaret Thatcher and I will not be shedding a tear for her. She's done untold damage to the mining community. … I honestly can't think of anything good I can say about Margaret Thatcher."

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