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Toasts at a Dinner Hosted by President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union

June 01, 1990

President Gorbachev. Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen, comrades, we have completed the second full day of talks, but I would like to sum things up. This meeting is only a stage, though a major one, in the gigantic and forward-looking project of perestroika and Soviet-American relations.

We are going to have at least two more meetings with President Bush this year alone: one at the Conference on Security on Cooperation in Europe, where I hope a treaty reducing conventional arms in Europe will be signed, and the other to sign a treaty reducing strategic offensive arms.

I believe that the agenda for 1990 that we approved at Malta can be implemented. We may reach greater heights in building a new Soviet-American relationship only by setting our sights higher and higher while abandoning all that was nurtured by the ideology and geopolitics of the cold war.

In assessing the outcome of our talks, I believe I can say that they have demonstrated a growing mutual understanding between the U.S.S.R. and the United States, which means progress in sustaining the profound and positive changes underway in the world. In this regard, our in-depth discussion of the problems and prospects of the European process was no doubt a useful one. It has served to clarify views and positions, and brought in new arguments for consideration and exploration of acceptable solutions.

It is quite natural that we focused on the external aspects of German unification. As we see it, two processes should be completed: that of the final postwar settlement, and that related to the internal issues of interforming the two parts of Germany into a single state. We believe that those two processes form the substance of the period of transition which when completed will result in the cancellation of the rights of the four victorious powers; the rights which, incidentally, stem from the outcome of the war and not from the division of Germany. The transition will end in the emergence of a new sovereign state.

At the same time we believe that the discussion is not over, that it continues. And there may be more than one approach. We have to consider all of them together, including also our allies. What is acceptable in the final analysis is only a jointly developed approach which would not prejudice anybody's interest or erode the overall process of positive changes in Europe and in the world. Those changes are the principle achievement of recent years and the main product of growing trust between us and of the growing awareness that our civilization is one.

A very important result of this summit is the agreements we have signed today and the official statements we have made. They demonstrate that our joint policy of moving from constructive understanding to constructive interaction is bearing fruit. There is no doubt that this has been made possible -- and I would say that what happened today is a confirmation of what I'm going to say -- this has been made possible only in the environment produced by our meeting with President George Bush at Malta.

The Soviet Union and the United States had to conduct a major and, I would say, courageous reassessment of how they viewed each other and the world. They had to realize that our mutual isolation was an anomaly and that human civilization is indivisible. Therefore, it is quite logical that the agreements we have signed reflect our common readiness to obtain greater interdependence from people-to-people communication and cooperation in vitally important areas and through reinforcing the legal framework of Soviet-American relations. The package of our new agreements also reflects the special role the Soviet Union and the United States play in building bridges of understanding and trust between the East and the West.

In particular, I would like to call your attention to the agreement on trade. This agreement takes on special relevance since it has been concluded at a time of a dramatic change of direction in the Soviet economy which is crucial for the future of perestroika. I am convinced that the Soviet people will appreciate the fact that the United States, the President of the United States, is signing this agreement to normalize Soviet-American commercial relations at this moment of special importance for our country.

Now that we have recorded the progress we have made and laid down guidelines for the future, I would like to express the hope that the ship of Soviet-American relations will continue to sail on this course. It is clear that there are still some disagreements between us as to the optimal structure of our relationship. But this area of disagreement is being narrowed while the area of trust, agreement, and cooperation is expanding. An indication of the sincerity and seriousness of our countries' intentions is that we have started a difficult process of revising what appeared to be eternal concepts of the role of military power in safeguarding national security. In taking a radically different approach to security, we should not forget people who were ahead of their time. Andrei Sakharov is one of them.

One of the fathers of nuclear super weapons, Sakharov had the courage of his convictions to uphold to the end that force could no longer play a role in relations among states. Sakharov taught us another lesson, too: One should not fear dogma, nor be afraid of appearing naive. Political decisions that truly meet peoples' best interests should be based on the realities of life, not on contrived schemes.

Today our society is going through a complex, and sometimes dramatic, but promising process of perestroika on a democratic and humane basis with full respect for human rights and freedoms. Perestroika is also a contribution to building a new world, for we are searching for answers to the questions that confront in one way or another with greater or lesser intensity all nations and, indeed, all mankind.

We believe that once we are clear of the thorns on this path we have chosen, we shall not only reach new frontiers in our country's history but also help to build a new civilization of peace. We are ready to do that, together with the United States of America.

I would like to propose a toast to a future of peace for the Soviet and the American people, and for all nations on Earth. To idealism and the idealists. To the health of the President of the United States of America, Mr. George Bush, and Barbara Bush. To the health and well-being of all present here. To the happiness of our children and grandchildren.

President Bush. Mr. President and Mrs. Gorbachev, Barbara and I would like to thank you for this splendid dinner and for your wonderful hospitality and for your most interesting and gracious remarks. Yesterday we welcomed the Gorbachevs back to Washington still filled with memories of the things we shared in Malta: friendship, cooperation, seasick pills. [Laughter]

For us here in this country, Mr. President, this week began with our observance of our Memorial Day, a day for not only remembrance of those who gave their last full measure of devotion but also for recommitment to the ideal that they shall not have died in vain.

And the week has now ended with a new memorial, a living memorial marked by historic agreements on both nuclear and chemical arms. And they've been shaped by a remembrance of shared interests and a recommitment to forging a just and lasting peace. And they stand as a memorial not to the past but to the future, a memorial to wars that need never be fought, to the hardship and suffering that need never be endured.

This afternoon we signed a landmark agreement to destroy the great majority of our chemical weapons. And we issued a joint statement recording major agreed provisions of a strategic arms reduction treaty. And the President and I also signed a commercial agreement, and we're looking forward to the passage of a Soviet emigration law. And we also agreed on this long-term grain agreement.

But true peace takes more than just laying down of arms. It also requires the reaching out of hands. And you know, Americans and Soviets have often tended to think of our two countries as being on opposite sides of almost everything, including the opposite sides of the world. But we share an important northern border, and we are, in fact, next door neighbors across the Bering Sea.

Today, we've also signed an agreement fixing our maritime boundary in the Bering Sea area and announced our agreement to establish a U.S.-Soviet park across the Bering Strait, a new gateway to the Arctic and a new gateway to the future.

Mr. President, I learned that the name of your home town out in the northern Caucasus, Privolnoye, can mean spacious or free.

President Gorbachev. Thank you for mentioning it.

President Bush. I know my pronunciation was bad, but I'm sure I'm right when I say it means spacious or free. [Laughter]

President Gorbachev. Great pronunciation -- can mean both.

President Bush. Well, anyway, it reminded me of the new breeze, the new spirit of freedom that we've seen sweep across Europe and around the globe. I sensed it last summer, speaking in front of the shipyard gates to the people of Gdansk. And I told them because Americans are so free to dream, we feel a special kinship with those who dream of being free. Today that kinship is quickly becoming a shared spirit, a spirit that inspires millions here in our nation, in your own, and around the world.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I invite all of you to join me in a toast to our gracious hosts, the President and Mrs. Gorbachev. To lasting peace, and to this wonderful spirit of freedom.

Note: President Gorbachev spoke at 7:55 p.m. in the Golden Dining Room at the Soviet Embassy. He spoke in Russian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

George Bush, Toasts at a Dinner Hosted by President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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