THE Former Soviet leader yesterday met Francesc Antich in Palma.

THE former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, yesterday met Balearic Chief Minister Francesc Antich in Palma, and while Gorbachev was not due to make any statements to the press, he did speak of his approval of the government's tourist tax initiative. The 1999 winner of the Nobel Peace prize, has been in Majorca on holiday at the Hotel Formentor for the past two weeks, while saying “I don't want to teach the Balearics what they should do because in my life I have taken many decisions.” Gorbachev said that he approved of the plan to regenerate the environment and renovate the areas of the island which have suffered most at the hands of tourism. He added that “each problem has different points of view and that tourists must be made to realise that the infrastructure needs a rest.” Gorbachev also expressed his surprise at seeing so much construction work being carried out in the area around Formentor. However, while he admitted that the eleven million people who visit the islands every year “is a large number,” Gorbachev said that Majorca is a “marvelous” place to relax after two years of hard work. While touring an exhibition of painting by Majorcan artist Joan Bennássar, Gorbachev told Antich that he had enjoyed the local products and wines he has sampled and said that he would highly recommend Majorca for a holiday. In fact, Gorbachev has become so relaxed in the north east of the island that he has turned down a series of invitations to tour the island, prefering to spend time with his daughter and grand daughter. “I have received a number of offers, but the most important thing is to disconnect,” he said adding that he is quite happy “stretched out on the beach like a seal, which is why I now feel very relaxed.” Antich received Gorbachev at his Consulat del Mar headquarters before showing the former Soviet leader round the exhibition in La Lonja.