Open main menu

Address to the 43rd U.N. General Assembly Session

Esteemed Mr Chairman, Esteemed Mr Secretary-General, esteemed delegates, we have arrived here to express our respect for the UN, which is ever increasingly displaying its ability to be a unique international centre in the service of peace and security. We have arrived here to express our respect for the dignity of this organisation which is capable of accumulating the collective reason and will of mankind. Events are increasingly confirming the world's need for such an organization. In its turn, the organization needs the active participation of all its members in supporting its initiatives and actions, and in enriching its activity by their potential and original contribution. Somewhat over a year ago, in the article Realities and the guarantees of a secure world, I set out a number of thoughts concerning the problems within the scope of the UN. The time that had passed has given new food for thought. A turning point has come, indeed, in the development of world events. The Soviet Union's role in world affairs is well known. And taking into account the revolutionary restructuring that is taking place in our country and contains a colossal potential for peace and international co-operation, we are particularly interested now in being understood correctly. Therefore, we are here to share our thoughts within the walls of this most prestigious world organisation and let the organisation be the first to learn about our new important decisions. In what shape will mankind enter the 21st century? Thoughts about this, already not so distant, future are on people's mind. We are peering into this future, with expectations of better things and at the same time with anxiety. The world in which we live today is radically different from how it was early or even in the middle of the present century. And it is continuing to change in all its constituent parts. The appearance of nuclear weapons has only emphasised in a tragic way the fundamental nature of these changes. As the material symbol and the carrier of absolute military force it has at the same time also laid bare the absolute limits of this force. The problem of the survival, of the self-preservation of mankind, has arisen in all its magnitude. Very profound social changes for the better are taking place. Hundreds of millions of people, be it in the East or in the South, in the West or in the North, new nations and states, new social movements and ideologies have moved to the front of the historical stage. In large-scale, not infrequently stormy people's movements the surge towards independence, demo-cracy and social justice is expressed in all its many aspects and contradictions. The idea of the democratisation of the entire world order has turned into a mighty socio-political force. At the same time the scientific and technical revolution has turned many problems problems of economics, food, energy, the ecology, information and demography which not so long ago we dealt with as national or regional problems into global problems. Thanks to the latest means of communication, mass information and transport the world has as it were become more visible and p erceptible for everyone. International contact has been simplified in an unprecedented way. Today it is hardly possible to preserve as it were closed societies. This requires a decisive revision of views on the entire total of problems of international co-operation as a major element of universal security. The world economy is becoming a single organism that no single state can develop normally outside of whatever social system it belongs to and at whatever economic level it is. This puts on the agenda the elaboration of a fundamentally new mechanism for the functioning of the world economy, of a new structure for the international division of labour. At the same time the growth of the world economy exposes the contradictions and limits of traditional industrialisation. Its further spread in breadth and depth threatens an ecological catastrophe. But there are still many countries where industry is not sufficiently developed, whilst others have not yet left the pre-industrial stage. Whether the process of their economic growth will follow the old technological patterns or they will be able to join in the search for clean production from the ecological point of view this is a major problem. Another problem is that the gap between the developed countries and the majority of the developing ones is failing to narrow, and is becoming an ever greater threat on a global scale. This makes it necessary to begin searchi ng for a fundamentally new type of industrial progress a type that would correspond to the interests of all peoples and states. In a word, new realities are changing the whole world situation. The differences and oppositions inherited from the past are being reduced or removed. But new ones are appearing. Some former disagreements and arguments are losing their significance. Their place is being taken by conflicts of another sort. Experience is making us give up customary stereotypes and obsolete views, and free ourselves from illusions. The very concept of the nature and criteria of progress is changing. It would be naive to think that it is possible to tackle the problems tormenting modern humanity with the aid of the means and methods which were used or seemed suitable before. Yes, humanity has accumulated very rich experience in political, economic and social development in the most diverse conditions. But it derives from international practices and forms that have already disappeared or are already dissapearing into the past. Therein lies one of the signs of the crucial nature of the present stage of history. The greatest philosophers have tried to comprehend the laws of social development and find answers to the main question how to make man's life happy, just and safe. Two great revolutions, the French revolution of 1789 and the Russian revolution of 1917, have exerted a powerful influence on the actual nature of the historical process and radically changed the course of world events. Both of them, each in its own way, have given a gigantic impetus to humanity's progress. They are also the resolutions that have in many respects shaped a way of thinking that still prevails in the public consciousness. That is an enormous spiritual wealth. But today there emerges before us a different world, for which it is necessary to seek different roads to the future to seek, relying, of course, on accumulated experience, but also seeing the radical differences between that which was yesterday and that which is taking place today. The novelty of the tasks and at the same time their difficulty are not limited to this. Today we have entered an era when progress will be based on the interests of all mankind. And awareness of this requires that world policy, too, should be determined by placing the values of all mankind first. The history of the past centuries, millennia, has been a history of almost ubiquitous wars, sometimes desperate battles, leading to mutual destruction. They occurred in the clash of social and political interests, national hostility, be it from ideological or religious incompatibility. All that was the case and even now many claim this past, which has not been overcome, to be an immutable pattern. But parallel with the process of wars, hostility, alienation of peoples and countries, another process, just as objectively conditioned, was in motion, gaining force the process of the emergence of a mutually-connected and integral world. Further world progress is possible now only through the search for a consensus of all mankind, in movement towards a new world order. We have arrived at a frontier when uncontrolled spontaneity leads to a dead end, and the world community has to learn to shape and direct processes in such a way as to preserve civilisation, make it safe for everyone and more pleasant for normal life. It is a question of co-operation which it would be more accurate to call co-creation and co-development. The formula of development at another's expense is becoming outdated. In the light of the present realities there can be no genuine progress either by infringing the rights and liberties of man and peoples, or at the expense of nature. The very tackling of global problems requires a new volume and quality of co-operation by states and socio-political currents regardless of ideological and other differences. Of course, radical, revolutionary changes are taking place and will continue to take place within individual countries and social structures. This has been and will continue to be so. But our times are making corrections here, too. Internal transformational processes cannot achieve their national objectives merely by taking courses parallel with others without using the achievements of the surrounding world and the possibilities of equitable co-operation. In these conditions, interference in those internal processes with the aim of altering them according to someone else's prescription would be all the more destructive for the emergence of a peaceful order. In the past, differences often served as a factor in a pulling away from one another. Now they are being given the opportunity of being a factor in mutual enrichment and mutual attraction. Behind the differences in social structure, in ways of life and in the preference for certain values, stand interests. There is no getting away from that. But neither is there any getting away from the need, which has become a condition for survival and progress, to find a balance of interests within an international framework. As you ponder all this, you come to the conclusion that, if we wish to take account of the lessons of the past and the realities of the present, if we must reckon with the objective logic of work development, it is necessary to seek, and to seek jointly, an approach towards improving theinternational situation and building a new world. If that is so, then it is worth agreeing also on the fundamental and truly universal prerequisites and principles for such activities. It is evident, for example, that force and the threat of force can no longer and should not be instruments of foreign policy. This applies in the first instance to nuclear weapons. But it goes further than that. Everyone, and the strongest in the first instance, is required to restrict themselves and to exclude totally the use of external force. That is the first very important component of a non-violent world as an ideal which we, together with India, proclaimed in the Delhi Declaration and which we invite others to follow. Moreover, today it is clear that the stepping up of military force does not make a single power all-powerful. And a one-sided emphasis on military force in the final analysis weakens other components of national security. The necessity of the principle of freedom of choice is also clear to us. The failure to recognise this, to recognise it, is fraught with very dire consequences, consequences for world peace. Denying that right of the peoples, no matter what the pretext for doing so, no matter what words are used to conceal it, means infringing even that unstable balance that it has been possible to achieve. Freedom of choice is a universal principle and there should be no exceptions. We have come to the conclusion of the immutability of this principle not simply through good motives. We have been led to it through an impartial analysis of the objective processes of our time. The increasingly multifarious nature of different countries' social development is becoming their ever more perceptible feature. This relates to both the capitalist and the socialist systems. The variety of socio-political structures which have grown over the last decades from national liberation movements shows this too. And this objective fact presupposes respect for other people's views and stands, tolerance, preparedness to see phenomena which are different not necessarily as bad or hostile, the ability to learn to live side by side while remaining different and agreeing with one another not on every issue. The self-assertion of the world's diversity makes untenable attempts to look down on others and teach them one's own democracy, not to mention the fact that democratic values made for export often lose their value very quickly. Thus, it is a question of unity and diversity. If we state this in the political sphere, if we confirm that we adhere to freedom of choice, then the ideas that certain people live on earth through divine will while other people are here by pute accident will be discarded. It is time to get rid of such a complex and to construct one's political line correspondingly. Then prospects for strengthening the world's unity will open too. The de-ideologisation of inter-state relations has become a demand of the new stage. We are not giving up our convictions, philosophy or traditions, nor are we calling on anybody to give up theirs. Yet we are not going to shut ourselves within the set of our values. That would lead to spiritual impoverisment, for that would mean to renounce such a powerful source of development as sharing all the original things that are being created by each nation independently. In the course of such sharing, each should prove the advantages of his system, way of life, and values, but not through words or propaganda alone but through real deeds too. That is indeed an honest struggle of ideology. But it must not be carried over into mutual relations between states. Otherwide we simply shall not be able to solve a single world problem, nor arrange broad, mutually advantageous and equitable co-operation between peoples, nor manage rationally by the achievements of the scientific and technical revolution, nor transform world economic relations, nor protect the environment, nor overcome underdevelopment, nor put an end to hunger, disease, illiteracy and other mass ills. And finally , we shall not in that case manage to eliminate the nuclear threat and militarism. Such are our reflections on the natural order of things in the world on the threshold of the 21st century. We are, of course, far from claiming infallible truth. But, having subjected the previous realities, and ones which have newly arisen, to strict analysis, we have come to the conclusion that it is by precisely such approaches that we must jointly search for a way to the supremacy of the common human idea over the countless multiplicity of centrifugal forces, to preserving the vitality of a civilisation which is possibly the only one in the universe. Is there not here a certain romanticism, an exaggeration of the potential and maturity of public awareness in the world? We hear such doubts and questions both at home and from some of our Western partners. I am convinced that we are not losing touch with reality. Forces have already taken shapein the world which one way or another are inducing the start of a period of peace. The peoples and broad circles of the public really ardently want a change in the state of affairs for the better. They want to learn to co-operate. Sometimes it is even striking how strong is this trend. And it is important that this sort of mood starts to be transformed into policy. Both the change in philosophical approaches and in political relations are an important prerequisite to give a powerful spur, relying on objective processes on a world scale, to efforts directed at establishing new relations between states. The corresponding conclusions are being made even by those politicians whose activity was at one time connected with the cold war, sometimes its most acute stages. Of all people they find it especially difficult to renounce stereotypes, from the experience of those times. And if even they are making such change of direction, then it is obvious that, with the coming of new generations, the possibilities will be still greater. In short, the understanding of the need for a period of peace is making a way for itself and becoming the dominant trend. As a result the first real steps have become possible in improving the international situation and in disarmament. What arises from this, on a practical level? The natural, wise thing would be not to renounce that which is positive, which we have already attained, to advance all that is positive, that has been achieved in recent years, created by joint efforts. I mean the process of talks on the problems of nuclear weapons, conventional weapons, chemical weapons, the search for political ways of halting regional conflicts. And, of course, first and foremost, political dialogue which is more intensive, more open, targeted at the heart of problems and not on confrontation, at an exchange not of accusations, but of constructive ideas. Without political dialogue, the process of talks will not proceed. In our view, there are sufficiently optimistic prospects for the near and the more remote future. Look how our relations with the USA have changed little by little mutual understanding has started to be built up, elements of trust have arisen, without which it is very difficult to move forward in politics. There are even more of these elements in Europe. The Helsinki process is a great process; in my opinion it remains fully in force. It must be preserved and deepened in all aspects, the philosophical, political and practical aspects, but taking into account the new circumstances. The realities are now such that to have a dialogue which ensures the normal and constructive progress of the international process requires the constant, active participation of all countries and regions of the world of those of great magnitude such as India, China, Japan and Brazil, and of others, large, medium-sized and small. I am for making the political dialogue more dynamic, for it being full of content, for reinforcing the political prerequisites essential for improving the international atmosphere. Then the practical solution of many problems would also be facilitated. It is a difficult matter, but it is essential to move along precisely that road. Everyone should take part in moving towards more unity in the world. This is particularly important now, because a very important time is starting a time when the issue of ways of ensuring world solidarity, stability and the dynamic nature of international relations is being put on the agenda. However, while talking to foreign statesmen and politicians and I have had over 200 such conversations I could feel sometimes their dissatisfaction over the f act that during this extremely crucial stage, for some reason or other, they find themselves sometimes standing aside, as it were, from the main questions of wo rld politics. It is natural and correct that nobody wants to be reconciled to this. If we are parts, although different ones, of one and the same civilisation, if we understand the interdependence of the modern world, this must also be present ever more in politics, in practical efforts aimed at the harmonisation of international relations. Perhaps the term restructuring is not very suitable in this case. But I am, indeed, advocating new international relations. I am convinced that the times and the realities of the modern world demand that a stake be made on the internationalisation of the dialogue and negotiating process. This is the main general conclusion that we have reached from studying world processes which have lately been gathering strength, and from taking part in world politics. In this specific historic situation, the question of the new role of the UN organisation is also arising. It seems to us that it is necessary for states to rethink somewhat their attitude to such a unique instrument as the UN, without which it is now impossible to imagine world politics. Therecent activisation of its peace-making role has again shown the ability of the UN to help its members in coping with the threatening challenges of the times and in following the path of the humanisation of relations. Unfortunately, immediately it had been set up, it found itself under the onslaught of the cold war. It became for many years a field for propaganda battles and for cultivating political confrontation. Historians can argue about who is more and who is less to blame for this. But the politicians today must learn the lessons of this chapter in the UN's history, which was in contradiction to the actual essence and intention of the UN. One of the most bitter and important lessons is the long list of the opportunities missed, and as a consequence of the reduction at some stage in the prestige of the UN, the failure of many of its attempts to act. What is very indicative is that the rebirth of the UN's role is connected with an improvement in the international climate. The UN organisation is absorbing, as it were, the interests of various countries. And it is the only organisation which is able to combine in one stream their bilateral, regional and all-embracing efforts. New opportunities are opening up for it in all spheres which are naturally part of the UN's competence military-political, economic, scientific and technical, ecological and humanitarian ones. Take, for example, the problem of development. This is a problem which is truly common to all mankind. The living conditions of tens of millions of people in a number of regions of the Third World are simply becoming dangerous for all of mankind. No closed formations, nor even regional communities of states, however important they are, are able to untie the main knots which have formed on the principal lines of world economic ties North-South, East-West, South-South, South-East and East-East. Here combined efforts are needed. The interests of all groups of countries need to be taken into account, and only such an organisation as the UN is capable of ensuring this. Foreign debt is one of the most acute problems. Let us not forget that, at the cost of incalculable losses and sacrifices in the colonial era, the developing world advanced the prosperity of a considerable part of the world community. The time has come to make compensation for the deprivations with which this historic and tragic contribution it made to world material progress was accompanied. The way out we are convinced lies also in internationalising the method of approach. Looking at things realistically, it must be recognised that the accumulated debt cannot be either repaid or recovered on the original terms. The Soviet Union is ready to establish a lengthy moratorium up to 100 years on repayments of debts from the least developed countries, and in a whole series of cases to write them off entirely. As regards the other developing countries, we invite the examination of the following that the repayments on their official debt should be limited depending on the indices of economic development of each of them, or that a protracted deferment be declared of a considerable proportion of the repayments; that the appeal by the UN Conference on Trade and Development on reducing the debts to commercial banks be supported; and that government support be ensured for settling the debts of the Third World by the market mechanism, including the setting up of a specialised international institution for buying up debts at a discount. The Soviet Union advocates specific discussion of ways of settling the debt crisis at multilateral forums, including consultations of heads of government of debtor and creditor nations held under the aegis of the UN. International economic security is unthinkable outside a linkage not only with disarmament but also with overcoming the world-wide ecological threat. The situation with regard to ecology in a number of regions is simply appalling. Within the UN framework a conference on the environment is planned for 1992. We welcome this decision and are preparing for such a forum to produce results corresponding to the scale of the problem. But time does not wait, and a great deal is being done in various countries. Here I should just like yet again and most forcefully to stress the opportunities that are being opened up for ecological revival in the process of disarmament, above all, of course, nuclear disarmament. Let us also ponder whether a centre of urgent ecological aid ought not to be set up under the UN. Its functions would be to send international groups of specialists promptly to areas where there is a sharp deterioration in the ecological situation. The Soviet Union is ready to co-operate, too, in the creation of an international space laboratory or manned orbiting station which would be exclusively engaged in monitoring the condition of nature. Altogether in the conquest of space the features of a future space industry are appearing ever more distinctly. The Soviet Union's position is well know activity in space must exclude going out there with arms. A legal basis is necessary for this too. The foundation for this already exists the 1967 treaty and other agreements. However, the need to elaborate a comprehensive regime for peaceful work in space has already come to a head; and monitoring the observance of the regime would be a matter for a world space organisation. We already expressed more than once the proposal to set it up. We are also prepared to include our Krasnoyarsk radar station within the system of that organisation. The decision has already been taken to transfer that station to the USSR Academy of Sciences. Soviet scientists are prepared to receive foreign colleagues and to dicuss with them how to re-equip it into an international centre for peaceful co-operation, dismantling and altering individual facilities and structures and also completing it with equipment which it lacks. This whole system could function under the aegis of the UN. The whole world welcomes the efforts of the UN, Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar and his representatives in untying regional knots. Allow me to dwell somewhat on this theme. Rephrasing the verse of the English poet that Hemingway took as the epigraph for his famous novel let us say this The bell of each regional conflict tolls for all of us. This is particularly true because these conflicts are occurring in the Third World, which even without this has many troubles and problems on such a scale that it cannot fail to concern all of us. The year 1988 brought a ray of hope in that area of our common concerns too. It affected almost all regional crises, and there are improvements in some places. We welcome them; we have encouraged them, to the extent of our possibilities. I shall dwell specifically just on Afghanistan. The Geneva agreements, the fundamental and practical importance of which was rated highly in the whole world, provided the opportunity to complete a settlement even this year. That did not happen. And this regrettable fact recalls again the political, legal and moral significance of the ancient Roman maxim pacta sunt servanda treaties must be fulfilled. I do not want to use this platform for reproaches in anybody's direction. But it seems to us that, within the competence of the UN, the November resolution of the General Assembly could have some specific measures added to it. Speaking in the words of the resolution, for immediate achievement of a comprehensive solution by the Afghans themselves of the question of a broad-based government, to undertake the following from 1st January 1989 to have a full cease-fire everywhere, and to halt all offensive operations or shellings, and, for the period of the talks, all the territories being occupied by opposing Afghan groups to be maintained under their control. Linked to this, from the same date to halt arms deliveries to all the belligerent parties. For the period of establishing the broad-based government envisaged in the General Assembly resolution, to send to Kabul and other strategic centres of the country a contingent of UN peace-keeping forces. We also appeal to the UN Secretary-General with a request to foster the speediest implementation of the idea of holding an international conference on the neutrality and demilitarisation of Afghanistan. We shall continue in the future to help in the most active way to heal the wounds of war. We are ready to co-operate in this matter both with the UN and on a bilateral basis. We support the proposal to set up under the UN's aegis a volunteer international peace corps to assist the rebirth of Afghanistan. In connection with the problem of settling regional conflicts, I cannot fail to express my judgment on a serious incident which occurred very recently with regard to the work of this session. The representative of an organisation which has the status of a permanent observer at the UN was not admitted to New York by the US authorities to speak at the General Assembly. I am talking about Yasir Arafat. And that took place at the moment when the PLO had taken an important and constructive step facilitating the search for a solution of the Near East knot with the participation of the UN Security Council. That happened at a moment when a positive trend towards a political settlement of other regional conflicts had taken shape, and in a number of cases with the assistance of the USSR and the USA. We express great regret over what has taken place and our solidarity with the PLO. Gentlemen, the concept of universal international security is based on the principles of the UN Charter and proceeds from the binding nature of international law on all states. In favouring the demilitarisation of international relations, we want to see politico-legal methods dominating in the solution of problems which arise. Our ideal is a world community of law-governed states which also make their foreign policy subordinate to the law. The attainment of this would be facilitated by an accord within the UN framework on a uniform understanding of the principles and norms of international law, their codification, taking account of new conditions, and also the working out of legal norms for new spheres of co-operation. In the conditions of the nuclear age, the efficacy of international law must rely not on coercion of execution, but on norms reflecting the balance of interests of states. Together with an increasing awareness of the objective commonality of fate, this would create a sincere interest for every state in restricting itself within the bounds of international law. The democratisation of international relations is not only the maximum internationalisation of the solution of problems by all members of the world community, it is also a humanisation of those relations. International links will fully reflect the real interests of the peoples and reliably serve the cause of their common security only when at the centre of everything there is the human being, his concerns, rights and liberties. In this context, I should like to add the voice of my country to join in the high assessments of the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 40 years ago, on 10th December 1948. That document is still topical today. It also reflected the universal nature of the aims and tasks of the UN. The most suitable way for a state to mark the anniversary of the declaration is to improve its own conditions at home for the observance and defence of the rights of citizens. Before telling you precisely what we have done in this sense recently. I would like to say the following our country is undergoing a truly revolutionary upsurge. The process of restructuring is gaining pace. We started by elaborating the theoretical concept of restructuring; it was necessary to assess the nature and scope of the problems, to interpret the lessons of the past and to express this in the form of political conclusions and programmes. This was done. The theoretical work, the reinterpretation of what had happened, the final elaboration, enrichment and correction of political stances have not ended. They continue. However, it was fundamentally important to start precisely from an overall concept which is already now being confirmed by the experience of the years which have gone by, which has turned out to be correct on the whole; and there is no alternative to it. In order to involve society in implementation of the plans for restructuring, it had to be democratised in reality. Under the badge of democratisation, restructuring has now encompassed both politics and the economy, and spiritual life and ideology. We have unfolded a radical economic reform, we have accumulated experience, and from as early as the new year we are transferring the entire national economy to new forms and methods of work. This, moreover, means a profound reorganisation of the relations of production and realisation of the immense potential contained in socialist property. In moving towards such bold revolutionary transformations, we understood that there would also be errors, that resistance would now occur, that the novelty would engender new problems., We foresaw the possibility of braking in individual sections. However, the profound democratic reform of the entire system of power and government is the guarantee that the overall process of restructuring will move steadily forward and gather strength. We completed the first stage of the process of political reform with the recent resolutions of the USSR Supreme Soviet on amendments to the Constitution and the adoption of the law on elections. Without stopping at all, we embarked on the second stage of this, at which the most important task will be working on the interaction between the centre and the republics, settling relations between nationalities on the principles of Leninist interna tionalism bequeathed to us by the Gerat Revolution and, at the same time, reorganising the power of the Soviets locally. We are faced with immense work. At the same time we shall have to resolve major tasks. We are completely full of confidence. We have both the theory and the policy and the vanguard strength of rstructuring, a party which is also restructuring itself in accordance with the new tasks and the radical changes thorugout society. And the most important thing' all peoples and all generatins of citizens of our greaty country are for restructuring. We have gone substantially and deeply into the business of constructing a socialist law-governed state. A whole series of new laws have been prepared or are at the completion stage. Many of them come into force as early as 1989, and we count on them corresponding to the highest standards from the point of view of ensuring the rights of the individual. Soviet democracy is to acquire a firm normative base this means such acts as the law on freedom of conscience, on glasnost, on public associations and organisations and on much else. There are now no people in the country in places of imprisonment sentenced for their political or religious convictions. It is proposed to include in the drafts of the new laws additional guarantees ruling out any forms of persecution for these reasons. Of course, this does not apply to those who have committed real criminal or state offences espionage, sabotage, terrorism and so on whatever political or philosophical views they might hold. The draft amendments to the Criminal Code are ready and waiting their turn. In particular, the articles relating to the use of the supreme measu re of punishment are being reviewed. The problem of exit and entry is also being resolved in a humane spirit, including in the case of leaving the country in order to be reunited with relatives. As you know, one of the reasons for refusal is the possession of secrets by citizens. Strictly substantiated terms for the length of time of possessing secrets are being introduced in advance. On starting work at a relevant institution or enterprise, everyone will be made aware of this regulation. Disputes which arise could be appealed against in law. Thus, the problem of the so-called refuseniks is being removed. We intend to expand the participation of the Soviet Union in the verification mechanisms on human rights in the UN and within the framework of the European process. We consider that the jurisdiction of the International Court in The Hague in respect of interpreting and applying agreements in the field of human rights should be binding on all states. Within the context of the Helsinki process, we are examining also the lifting of jamming of broadcasts of all the foreign radio stations transmitting to the Soviet Union. On the whole, our credo is as follows political problems should be solved only by political means, and human problems only in a human way. And now about the most important thing without which no problems of the coming century can be resolved disarmament. International development and contacts have been deformed by the arms race and the militarisation of thinking. On 15th January 1986 the Soviet Union put forward, as is known, a programme for building a nuclear-free world. Its embodiment in real negotiating positions has alrea dy provided its material fruits. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the signing of the treaty eliminating intermediate and shorter-range missiles. With still greater satisfaction I say that the implementation of that treaty the destruc tion of the missiles is proceeding normally, in an atmopshere of trust and business-ike efficiency. It would seem that such a breach has formed in the impen etrable wall of suspicion and hostility. And before our eyes we are seeing a new historic reality arising a change of direction from the principle of superarm ament to the principle of reasonable sufficiency for defence. We are present at the first glimmers of the formation of a new model of ensuring security, not with the help of increasing weapons, as was almost always the case, but on the cont rary through the reduction of them on the basis of compromise. The Soviet leadership has decided once again to demonstrate its readiness to strengthen this healthy process, not only in words, but in deeds. Today I can inform you of the following the Soviet Union has taken a decision on reducing its armed forces. In the next two years, their numerical strength will be reduced by 500,000 persons, and the volume of conventional weapons will also be cut considerably. These reductions will be made on a unilateral basis, unconnected with the negotiations on the mandate for the Vienna meeting. By agreement with our Warsaw Treaty allies, we have taken the decision to withdraw six tank divisions from the GDR, Czechoslovakia and Hungary by 1991 and to disband them. Assault landing [Russian desantno-shturmovoy] formations and units and a number of others, including assault river-crossing [Russian desantno-perepravochnyy] ones, with their arms and combat equipment will also be withdrawn from the groups of Soviet forces situated in those countries. The Soviet forces situated in those countries will be cut by 50,000 persons and their weapons by 5,000 tanks. All the Soviet divisions still remaining on the territory of our allies will be reorganised. They will be given a different structure from today's, which will become unambiguously defensive, after the large removal of tanks from them. At the same time, we shall also cut the numbers of the personnel of our forces and the quantity of arms in the European part of the USSR. Altogether, in that part of our country and on the territory of our European allies, the Soviet armed forces will be reduced by 10,000 tanks, 8,500 artillery systems and 800 combat aircraft. Over these two years we shall substantially reduce the grouping of armed forces in the Asian part of the country too. By agreement with the government of the Mongolian People's Republic, a considerable part of the Soviet troops temporarily present there will return home. In adopting these decisions of fundamental importance, the Soviet leadership is voicing the will of a people engaged in an in-depth renewal of its socialist society. We shall maintain the country's defence capability at a level of reasonable and reliable sufficiency, so that no one should find themselves tempted to infringe upon the security of the USSR and its allies. Through this act of ours, just as through the whole of our activity for the sake of the demilitarisation of international relations, we would like also like to draw the attention of the world community to another topical problem the problem of changing over from an an economy of arms to an economy of disarmament. Is the conversion of military production realistic? I have already had occasion to speak about this. We believe that it is, indeed, realistic. For its part, the Soviet Union is ready for this. Within the framework of the economic reform we are ready to draw up and submit our internal plan for conversion, to prepare in the course of 1989, as an experiment, plans for the conversion of two or three defence enterprises, to publish our experience of job relocation of specialists from the military industry and also of using its equipment, buildings and works in civilian industry. It is desirable that all states, in the first place the major military powers, should submit to the UN their national plans on this point. It would also be useful to form a group of scientists, entrusting it with an in-depth analysis of problems of conversion as a whole and as applied to individual countries and regions to report to the UN Secretary-General, and later to examine this matter at a session of the General Assembly. And, finally, being on American soil, but also for other, understandable reasons, I cannot but turn to the subject of our relations with this great country. I was able to fully appreciate its hospitality during my memorable visit to Washington exactly a year ago. The relations between the Soviet Union and the USA span five-and-a-half decades. The world has changed and so have the nature, role and place of these relations in world politics. For too long they were built under the banner of confrontation, and sometimes of hostility, either open or concealed. But in the last few years throughout the world people were able to heave a sigh of relief, thanks to the changes for the better in the substance and atmosphere of the relations between Moscow and Washington. No one intends to underestimate the serious nature of the disagreements and difficulties of the problems which have not been settled. However, we have already graduated from the primary school of instruction in mutual understanding and searching for solutions in our own and in the common interests. The USSR and the USA have created the biggest nuclear missile arsenals, and it was they who were able, having objectively recognised their responsibility, to be the first to conclude an agreement on the reduction and physical destruction of a proportion of these weapons, which threatened both themselves and everyone else. Both sides possess the biggest and the most refined military secrets. But it is they who have laid the basis for and are developing a system of mutual verification with regard to both the destruction and the limiting and banning of arms production. It is they who are amassing experience for future bilateral and multilateral agreements. We value this. We acknowledge and value the contribution of President Ronald Reagan and the members of his administration, above all Mr George Shultz. All this is capital which has been invested in a joint undertaking of historic importance. It must not be wasted or left out of circulation. The future US administration headed by the newly-elected Presdent, George Bush, will find in us a partner who is ready, without long pauses and backward movements, to continue the dialogue in a spirit of realism, openness and goodwill and with a striving for concrete results over an agenda encompassing the key issues of Soviet-American relations and international politics. We are talking first and foremost about steady progress towards concluding a treaty on a 50% reduction in strategic offensive weapons, while retaining the ABM treaty, about elaborating a convention on the elimination of chemical weapons here, it seems to us, we have the preconditions for making 1989 the decisive year about talks on reducing conventional weapons and armed forces in Europe. We are also talking about economic, ecological and humanitarian problems in the widest possible sense. It would be absolutely incorrect to lay the positive changes in the international situation only to the credit of the USSR and the USA. The Soviet Union highly appreciates the large and original contribution of the socialist countries to the process of improving the international situation. In the course of negotiations we constantly experience the presence of other major states, nuclear and non-nuclear. An indispensably important and constructive role is being played by many countries, both medium-sized and small, and of course by the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as the intercontinental Group of Six. We in Moscow are delighted that an ever greater number of state, political, party and public figures are ready to shoulder the burden of universal responsibility. I should like particularly to mention the scientists, cultural figures, representatives of mass organisations and various churches and activists of what is termed people's diplomacy. In this regard I think the idea of a regular convening, also under the UN's auspices, of an assembly of public organisations merits attention. We are not inclined to oversimplify the situation in the world. Yes, the tendency towards disarmament has received a strong impetus and this process is gaining its own momentum, but it has not become irreversible. Yes, the striving to give up confrontation in favour of dialogue and co-operation has made itself felt, but it has by no means secured its position forever in the practice of international relations. Yes, the movement towards a nuclear-free and non-violent world is capable of fundamentally transforming the political and spiritual face of the planet, but only the very first steps have been taken, which have moreover in certain influential circles been greeted with mistrust and are running up against resistance. The inheritance and the inertia of the past are continuing to operate. profound contradictions and the roots of many conflicts have not disappeared. The fundamental fact remains too that the formation of the peaceful period will take place in conditions of the existence and rivalry of various socio-economic and political systems. However, the meaning of our international efforts and one of the key tenets of the new thinking is precisely to impart to this rivalry the quality of sensible competition in conditions of respect for freedom of choice and a balance of interests. In this case it will become even useful and productive from the viewpoint of general world development. Otherwise, if the main component remains the arms race, as it has been until now, rivalry will be fatal. Indeed an ever greater number of people throughout the world, from the man in the street to leaders, are beginning to understand this. Esteemed Mr Chairman, esteemed delegates! I finish my first speech at the UN with the same feeling with which I began it a feeling of responsibility to my own people and to the world community. We have met at the end of a a year that has been so significant for the UN and on the threshold of a year from which all of us expect so much. One would like to believe that our joint efforts to put an end to the era of wars, confrontation and regional conflicts, aggression against nature, the terror of hunger and poverty as well as political terrorism will be comparable with our hopes. This is our common goal, and it is only by acting together that we may attain it. Thank you! [applause]

This work is excerpted from an official document of the United Nations. The policy of this organisation is to keep most of its documents in the public domain in order to disseminate "as widely as possible the ideas (contained) in the United Nations Publications".

Pursuant to UN Administrative Instruction ST/AI/189/Add.9/Rev.2 available in English only, these documents are in the public domain worldwide:

  1. Official records (proceedings of conferences, verbatim and summary records, ...)
  2. United Nations documents issued with a UN symbol
  3. Public information material designed primarily to inform the public about United Nations activities (not including public information material that is offered for sale).