Worldwide reaction to Margaret Thatcher's resignation reflected admiration for her fierce determination and stunning achievements, tempered by widespread sentiment that it was time for her to go.
In resignation, as at the peak of her powers, the British prime minister left nobody speechless. The "Iron Lady" has long been described as stubborn, exasperating and often amusing, but never boring."On a personal note, I'll miss her because I value her counsel and the wisdom that comes from her long experience," President Bush said Thursday in Saudi Arabia while visiting American troops.
"She has been an outstanding prime minister for the United Kingdom and an outstanding friend of the United States," said Bush, whose predecessor, Ronald Reagan, was far closer to Thatcher.
Reagan, in a statement from his California home, said, "Margaret Thatcher is truly a world statesman. Great Britain and indeed all the world should be thankful for the leadership of Margaret Thatcher.
"Margaret Thatcher was a completely reliable ally and was a partner of the greatest personal integrity. I could always count on her wise counsel, her firm support and her loyal friendship," Reagan said.
In Argentina, which lost a war to Britain in the 1980s, President Carlos Menem said Thatcher's resignation will have no effect on Argentine relations with the United Kingdom and warned Argentines not to "delude themselves" into thinking Britain will be more flexible in discussing sovereignty of the Falkland Islands now that the leader of Britain during the Falkland Islands War is retiring.
"English foreign policy has been constant for years," Menem said in Buenos Aires. "Maybe some merely formal aspects could change, but the substance, whoever the prime minister, will be the same."
In Moscow, "We will remember her for her great contribution to good relations between the West and the Soviet Union," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Gerasimov.
The Soviets know Thatcher best by her famous remark, when Mikhail Gorbachev was still only a contender for the Soviet leadership, "I think Mr. Gorbachev is a man we can do business with."
Thatcher's resignation Thursday followed severe criticism within the Conservative Party over her combative opposition to European Community integration.
"I see an evolution of British policy over European affairs," said French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas. "One can therefore expect a softening of that policy."
The president of the EC Executive Commission, Jacques Delors, who has clashed repeatedly with Thatcher, expressed his "greatest esteem" for her despite their "disagreements" over Europe.
Others were not quite so diplomatic.
"I think she has been part of history for some time," said Voker Ruehe, secretary-general of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Conservative Christian Union.
"I think it's the right time for her to step down," he said. "It is the chance for a new beginning and a victory for the Conservative Party, which is very important for stability in Europe."
The former Italian prime minister, Giovanni Spadolini, said Thatcher compiled an impressive record in her 11 years in office.
"We must render homage to the intrepid character of Mrs. Thatcher, who has shown a lofty quality and a stature that consecrates her in the history of her country," he said.
"I believe that every European citizen cannot forget the overall performance of one of the protagonists of the political life of recent years," said Spadolini, now the Italian Senate president.
The foreign policy spokesman for Denmark's governing conservatives seemed to sum up the overall reaction.
"Margaret Thatcher is a great and admirable figure in European politics. It is important that Europe has people like her as heads of state," the spokesman said. "But it is natural that the Conservatives in Britain should want a change in leadership now. Everything has its time, and she has apparently had hers."
Israeli leaders regretted Thatcher's resignation. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told Army Radio he felt "heartfelt sorrow since we all know the special personality of Mrs. Thatcher who acted in great many ways for her country."
"She most certaintly has an iron logic and an iron character," Shimon Peres, leader of Israel's opposition Labor Party, said in alluding to Thatcher's nickname, the "Iron Lady."
South African President F.W. de Klerk praised her for her support of South Africa's racial reforms and " South Africa's international relations. She had faith in South Africa's ability to solve its problems in a democratic way," he said.