Mikhail Gorbachev was one of the towering figures of his era.

With the death of the last leader of the Soviet Union, we remember one of the most significant world leaders of the 20th century, who helped bring an end to the Cold War that cast a shadow over the world for half a century.

Mr Gorbachev is remembered as a reformer, who brought greater openness to his country through his policy of glasnost, and restructuring of its economy through perestroika.

The effort involved in bringing together the leaders of the United States and the USSR in the 1980s, with decades of distrust and military threat, should never be underestimated. President Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan overcame these issues on behalf of their people and the world, embarking upon a new relationship that ultimately led to the end of the Cold War.

Mikhail Gorbachev was appropriately recognised for his leadership, which also helped to achieve the reunification of Germany, by being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

President Gorbachev’s declaration that he would not support Communist regimes in other countries if their peoples were opposed to them was pivotal in the subsequent fall of communism across other parts of Europe.

Media has reported that Mikhail Gorbachev was dismayed at today’s Russian authoritarianism, military aggression and the over-turning of media, religious and other freedoms for the Russian people. It is hardly surprising that he continued to support Russia and the US working together to avoid confrontation.

Mr Gorbachev will also be remembered for his work to promote environmental protection, including calling on nations to address climate change prior to the Kyoto Protocol.

It is a sad reflection of events in the current era that Mikhail Gorbachev’s work towards peace in eastern Europe and across the globe now appears more elusive. In these challenging times we should honour his life, his contribution and continue to strive for peace.