Radio Address to the
Nation on Soviet-United States Relations
December 3, 1988
a meeting in New York next week I'm looking
forward to. I'll be getting together next Wednesday on Governor's Island with the leader of the Soviet Union, Chairman Gorbachev.
This will be our last such meeting, and I must admit that I would not have
predicted after first taking office that someday I would be waxing nostalgic
about my meetings with Soviet leaders. But here we are for the fifth time, Mr.
Gorbachev and I together, in the hope of furthering peace.
always in my mind, I go back to that first summit held in 1985 at a private
villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. At the first of our
fireside talks, I said to Mr. Gorbachev that ours was a unique meeting between
two people who had the power to start world war III or to begin a new era for
humanity. The opportunity for such a new era is there and very real.
isn't to say, of course, that that era is already upon us. No, too many
fundamental differences on matters such as human rights and regional tensions
remain unsettled between East and West. But it is to say that there is the hope
of an era in which the terrible nightmares of the postwar era, totalitarianism
and nuclear terror, may diminish significantly and -- please God -- someday
fade away. Throughout the postwar period, this has always been America's agenda: that the
blessings of peace and freedom we know so well in this country will someday
belong to every nation, to every people.
this end, the United States and its allies have,
over the last 8 years, pursued a course of public candor and military strength,
but also a course of vigorous diplomatic engagement with the Soviets. And the
Soviets have responded. The result has been progress on a wide series of
fronts. First and most obvious, we have signed the first treaty in history
reducing nuclear armaments; indeed, wiping out a whole class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear
missiles. So, too, other arms negotiations are moving forward. In pursuing this
cause, the Soviets must abide by past agreements. And in this regard, the Krasnoyarsk radar violation remains
a significant problem.
the area of regional conflicts, we've seen a partial Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and a commitment to
full withdrawal by February. In Angola, U.S. mediation has led to a
cease-fire and prospects for a political settlement and withdrawal of Cuban
troops. In Cambodia, steps have been taken
toward a withdrawal of Vietnamese troops. And in other regions, we have seen
movement toward peace.
too, in our bilateral relations with the Soviets, there has been movement
toward wider exchanges between our two peoples that bring American and Soviet
citizens in closer contact and communication.
but most important, in the area of human rights we have also seen progress.
Yes, we welcome recent steps like an end to jamming of Western broadcasts heard
in the Soviet
But we also are hopeful that talk of democratic reform and greater freedom for
all the Warsaw Pact countries will become more than just talk. We hope, for
example, for a day when the Soviet Union will permit the
publication of the works of Solzhenitsyn or the day when the Berlin Wall will
be no more. Yes, we want bold words of reform about political and religious
expression to become more than just words.
for all the progress and all the hope, the journey to this final meeting
between Mr. Gorbachev and me at Governor's Island has been a difficult
one. And believe me, the journey toward better Soviet-American relations will
remain a difficult one. Yet it is a journey that must continue beyond any
single President or term of office. And that's why I'm particularly delighted
that Vice President George Bush will be joining Mr. Gorbachev and me at
Governor's Island next week.
I've spoken many times about Vice President Bush's foreign policy credentials
and his long experience in this field. At every stage in the summit process, he
has been at my side. No one is better versed in the details of Soviet-American
relations or has a stronger foreign policy portfolio than our Vice President.
while our get-together next week will not be a working summit with a formal
agenda, you can be sure I'll be telling Mr. Gorbachev that George Bush
represents change, yes, but also continuity; that he stands for firmness and
strength and candor in the cause of freedom; that he knows intimately the
essentials of the Soviet-American relationship; and that the American people do
not want treaties for the sake of treaties -- they want agreements that endure
and help prevent wars as the world moves relentlessly toward a new birth of
freedom for all humanity.
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.