Richard Nixon photo

Radio and Television Address to the People of the Soviet Union.

July 02, 1974

Dobryy vecher [Good evening]:

Two years ago at the first of these summit meetings, your Government gave me the opportunity to speak directly with you, the people of the Soviet Union. Last year, at our second meeting, General Secretary Brezhnev spoke on radio and television to the people of the United States. And now, tonight, I appreciate this opportunity to continue what has become a tradition, a part of our annual meetings.

In these past 2 years, there has been a dramatic change in the nature of the relationship between our two countries. After a long period of confrontation, we moved to an era of negotiation, and now we are learning cooperation. We are learning to cooperate, not only in lessening the danger of war but in advancing the work of peace.

We are thereby helping to create not only a safer but also a better life for the people of both of our countries. By reflecting on how far we have advanced, we can better appreciate how strong a foundation we have laid for even greater progress in the future.

At our first summit meeting e years ago, we signed the first agreement ever negotiated for the limitation of strategic nuclear arms. This was an historic milestone on the road to a lasting peace--and to mankind's control over the forces of his own destruction.

We have many difficulties yet to be overcome in achieving full control over strategic nuclear arms. But each step carries us closer and builds confidence in the process of negotiation itself.

Our progress in the limitation of arms has been vitally important. But it has not been the only product of our work at the summit. We have also been steadily building a new relationship that, over time, will reduce the causes of conflict.

In the basic principles for our mutual relations, agreed to in Moscow in 1972, and in the agreement on prevention of nuclear war, signed last year in Washington, we have established standards to guide our actions toward each other in international affairs generally so that the danger of war will be reduced and the possibility of dangerous confrontations will be lessened.

What is particularly significant is that our negotiations have been far wider than the reduction of arms and the prevention of wars and crises. The pattern of agreements reached between us has opened new avenues of cooperation across the whole range of peaceful relations.

For example, we are working together in programs which will bring better health, better housing, a better environment, as well as in many other fields. Trade between our two countries totaled a record $1.4 billion in 1973. That is more than twice the level of the previous year. This means more goods and a greater choice available for the people of both of our countries.

It was exactly 15 years ago next month when I was here in Moscow as Vice President that I first spoke to the people of the Soviet Union on radio and television. In that speech I said, "Let our aim be not victory over other peoples, but the victory of all mankind over hunger, want, misery and disease, wherever it exists in the world."

The agreements we have reached at these summit meetings--on health, for example, including this year's agreement on artificial heart research will help us toward that great victory. At the same time, they will give the people of both of our countries a positive stake in peace. This is crucially important. Traditionally, when peace has been maintained, it has been maintained primarily because of the fear of war. Negotiators have been spurred in their efforts, either by the desire to end a war or by the fear that their failure would begin a war.

The peace we seek now to build is a permanent peace. And nothing permanent can be built on fear alone. By giving both of our nations a positive stake in peace--by giving both of our peoples hope, something to look forward to as the results of peace--we create a more solid framework on which a lasting structure of peace can be built and on which it then can stand strong through the years.

The peace we seek to build is one that is far more than simply the absence of war. We seek a peace in which each man, woman, and child can look forward to a richer and a fuller life. This is what the people of the Soviet Union want. This is what the people of America want. And this is what the people of all nations want.

Our two nations are great nations. They are strong nations, the two strongest nations in the world.

Too often in the past, the greatness of a nation has been measured primarily in terms of its success in war. The time has come to set a new standard for the measure of greatness of a nation. Let our measure of greatness be not by the way we use our strength for war and destruction, but how we work together for peace and for progress for ourselves and for all mankind.

Let us recognize that to be great, a strong nation need not impose its will on weaker nations. A great nation will establish its place in history by the example it sets, by the purposes for which its power is used, by the respect that it shows for the rights of others, by the contribution it makes toward building a new world in which the weak will be as safe as the strong.

In these meetings, we have been seeking to ensure that the power of both of our nations will be used not for war and destruction, but rather for peace and for progress.

Our two nations will continue to have differences. We have different systems. And in many respects, we have different values. Inevitably, our interests will not always be in accord.

But the important thing is that we are learning to negotiate where we have differences, to narrow them where possible, and to move ahead together in an expanding field of mutual interests.

One of the most important aspects of our developing new relationship might be stated this way: Just as a cloth is stronger than the threads from which it is made, so the network of agreements we have been weaving is greater than the sum of its parts. With these agreements, we have been creating a pattern of interrelationships, of habits of cooperation and arrangements for consultation--all of which interact with one another to strengthen the fabric of the new relationship. Thus each new agreement is important not only for itself but also for the added strength and stability it brings to our relations overall.

We have been weaving this fabric of cooperation not just because we are idealistic about peace--and we are--but because we are practical about peace. The words of the agreements we sign are important; even more important is how we carry them out in practice--how we translate the ideal of peaceful cooperation into the practice of peaceful cooperation. In this growing network of agreements, of exchanges, of patterns of cooperation, we are demonstrating not just the ideal of peace but the practice of peace.

In the course of many years, I have visited memorials to the dead of many wars, in many countries. Yesterday, I laid a wreath at one of the most moving memorials I have ever seen--the Khatyn Memorial, outside Minsk. A huge bronze statue of Joseph Kaminsky, the village blacksmith, carrying his 15-year-old dead son in his arms, stands today above the graves of what was the village of Khatyn.

Chimneys stand where the houses were, with a memorial bell in each chimney tolling for the dead, not only for Khatyn but also for the hundreds of other villages that were destroyed and the millions of others who died--a stark reminder to all nations and for all time of the terrible cost of war.

As I laid the wreath, I thought of the people of Khatyn, and I thought especially of the children of Khatyn. I reflected on the fact that our efforts now must be directed not against any one nation or group of. nations, but against the evil of war itself.

And I also thought of the living memorial that we today must build--the living memorial of a lasting peace, so that the children of those who sacrificed in war and their children's children can be spared the tragedy of Khatyn and can know, instead, the security of a human brotherhood that reaches across the boundaries of all nations.

When we first met at the summit 2 years ago, both sides were venturing into the untried waters of something new. And we were, perhaps, a bit uncertain, even apprehensive, about where it would lead.

But now, we and the leaders of the Soviet Union have come to know one another. Each of us has a much fuller understanding of the policies of the other country, even where those policies differ.

Thus, we have been able to meet this year, as we will meet again next year in the United States, not in an atmosphere of crisis, but rather in an atmosphere of confidence--confidence that the work we have embarked on is going forward.

In fact, it might be said that the most remarkable thing about this summit meeting is that it is taking place so routinely, so familiarly--as a part of a continuing pattern that would have seemed inconceivable just a few years ago.

Peace is not only a condition; if it is to last, it must also be a continuing process. And these meetings are an example of that process in action.

As allies in World War II, we fought side by side in the most terrible war in all human history. And together with our allies we won the victory. In winning that victory, the people of the Soviet Union and the people of the United States shared a common hope that we also had won a lasting peace. That hope was frustrated, but now we have a new opportunity.

Winning victory in war is difficult. It requires extraordinary courage, stamina, and dedication from every individual citizen in the nation. But in some ways, the building of a lasting peace is even more difficult than waging war, because it is more complex. We must bring to the task of building that peace the same kind of courage, of stamina, of dedication that inspired us in our struggle for victory in war.

And the fact that our task of building peace is more complex does not mean that we cannot succeed.

Let me give a striking example which demonstrates that point. In the whole field of modern technology, no mission is more complex than the mission of sending men into space. The joint Soviet-American space mission planned for next year--the joint Soyuz-Apollo mission--is in many ways symbolic of the new relationship we are building between our two nations.

It is symbolic for several reasons--reasons which carry important lessons about that new relationship:

For one thing, the rocket technology developed for war is being used for peace.

And for another, Soviet and American spacemen, starting from their separate countries, will find their way toward one another and join with one another--just as we are doing and must continue to do across the whole range of our relationship.

By standardizing their docking techniques, they will make international rescue missions possible in case future space missions encounter trouble in space. Thus they will make space safer for the astronauts and the cosmonauts of both of our countries--just as our new relationship can make life on Earth safer for the people of both of our countries.

Finally, and perhaps more important, this joint mission--for which our astronauts are now here in the Soviet Union training alongside your cosmonauts--is being made possible by careful planning, by precise engineering, by a process of working and building together, step by step, to reach a goal that we share, and this is the way that together we can build a peace, a peace that will last.

One of the greatest of your writers, Leo Tolstoy, once told this story. A very old man was planting apple trees. He was asked: "What are you planting apple trees for? It will be a long time before they bear fruit, and you will not live to eat a single apple."

The old man replied, "I will never eat them, but others will, and they will thank me."

Our two nations bear a shared responsibility toward the entire world. And we, too, must plant now so that future generations will reap a harvest of peace--a peace in which our children can live together as brothers and sisters, joining hands across the ocean in friendship and ushering in a new era in which war is behind us and in which together, in peace, we can work toward a better life for our people and for all people.

Spasibo y do svidaniye. [Thank you and goodby.]

Note: The President spoke at 7:01 p.m. in the Green Room at the Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow. His address was broadcast live on radio and television in the Soviet Union and simultaneously, via satellite, in the United States.

An advance text of his address was released on the same day.

Richard Nixon, Radio and Television Address to the People of the Soviet Union. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Soviet Union

Simple Search of Our Archives