Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Joint Press Conference with West German Chancellor (Helmut Kohl

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Federal Chancellor’s Office, Bonn
Source: Thatcher Archive: transcript
Editorial comments: The Press Conference was due to begin at 1130. Because of lack of time, there were no questions after the two statements. MT left for her flight to Berlin at 1230, Chancellor Kohl accompanying her.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1568
Themes: Agriculture, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Economic policy - theory and process, Trade, European Union (general), European Union Budget, Foreign policy - theory and process, Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU)

Helmut Kohl

Madam Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen. As State Secretary Stolze has just said, we have now completed our consultations—the 12th such Anglo-German consultations in Bonn. However it is my belief that these consultations have been given additional weight by the Prime Minister's invitation to me—which has given me particular pleasure—to accompany her to Berlin for her first visit there during her period of office. I thank her most warmly for this.

Your visit to Berlin is of the greatest importance for us all. It is a gesture of friendship to all Germans which reflects the deep alliance between us that you are to visit the old German capital, that we shall travel together to the Reichstag, and that you will obtain a personal impression and experience of the situation in Berlin. It is only possible to understand the division of our fatherland and the division of the city when one sees it with one's own eyes, and I am most grateful for this gesture.

This 12th Anglo-German Summit is the first meeting of the two governments in Bonn since the change of government here in the Federal Republic. It was with great pleasure that I visited you for discussions in London 10 days ago. That this should be seen as the normal course of events shows how good Anglo-German relations are. Irrespective of which government is in power, or of changes in government, we share the basic political values. Our friendly relationship has solid and well-built foundations. It is based on the common interests of our two countries and given substance in our international agreements, both in the European Community and in NATO. Great Britain is also a guarantor of our safety—the safety of our Federal Republic of Germany. The Rhine army helps to maintain our country's freedom: Great Britain is also one of the protecting powers in Berlin. [end p1]

All our discussions—my own with the Prime Minister and those of my colleagues with their ministerial counterparts—have served to intensify our relationship. We naturally talked about internal developments in our own countries, and of the prime objectives of both our governments to get our economies moving, and to tackle unemployment—particularly unemployment among young people

We also discussed intensively international relations, and the world economic situation, where we are fully agreed that the increase in protectionsm is a dangerous development. We have also spoken about unsatisfactory developments within the EC, a subject which is of great importance to we Germans since we take over the presidency in the New Year and shall have to do our utmost to ensure that, even in difficult times, the Community remains a valid negotiating partner.

We were in full agreement that an intensification of the partnership with our friends in the United States is essential if Europe is to survive. We must clear up the various misunderstandings of recent months: for us this partnership means close links which take into account a sensible assessment of own interests. We both agreed that the solution which has now been achieved in the steel issue is an optimistic sign for future cooperation.

Our discussions have also covered the worrying developments in Poland. Both governments watch with great sympathy the very serious situation in which the Polish people find themselves. We are agreed that we should continue to offer humanitarian help, and above all we are agreed that the Polish government must stick to the treaties it has signed. I am of course referring to the Helsinki Final Act which is supposed to guarantee freedom for trade unions and churches.

In connection with defence policy we agreed that a continuation of close cooperation within the alliance was essential, and that Britain and the Federal Republic had a particular contribution to make in this area. We jointly expressed the hope that the disarmament negotiations would make further progress, and if possible produce positive results. I have already emphasised that my federal government, just like that of my predecessor, stands by both parts of the NATO two-track decision, that the Federal Republic wishes to be a reliable and dependable partner in the alliance, that we stand by our word, and that the Soviet Union must know that only a successful conclusion at the negotiating table can prevent the stationing going ahead as foreseen in both parts of the two-track decision. [end p2]

Those were the remarks which I have to make. I should like to express my thanks once again for the friendly and cordial nature of our talks. I found this most encouraging, and I would like to announce that we intend to hold the next consultations in April—probably on 22 April—in London. [end p3]


Chancellor Kohl, thank you very much for your warm welcome and for the very fruitful and enjoyable talks that we have had. Thank you also for what you said about the visit to Berlin. I am very pleased to be able to go there—very pleased that we are going there together. This is my first visit to Berlin. It is of course a unique city, unique in the arrangements for its government and protection: unique in the courage and resolve of its people. I have never seen the Wall before and I expect it to be something of a traumatic experience. We naturally recoil from walls that keep people in, but that wall is an ever-present reminder that, when people are free to choose, they choose freedom.

Now, a little bit more about our talks. Chancellor Kohl and I have obviously discussed in strategic terms: the detailed discussions have been carried out between the groups of ministers to which Chancellor Kohl referred. If I might divide my comments really into three parts: first we discussed problems in the context of the Western Alliance and throughout everything we have talked about our approach is very similar: it is a determination to safe-guard peace with freedom and justice but we wish to be able to do that at a lower level of expenditure than now, provided we can get agreement at all stages with the Warsaw Pact countries—an agreement that could be properly ratified. And so we work for two things simultaneously: a determination to safeguard liberty and justice and a wish to do it at a lower level of expenditure provided we are able to negotiate to do so. There are in the Western Alliance one or two passing problems such as the Siberian pipeline between the United States and ourselves. We hope that those will soon be resolved and that sanctions will be lifted so that this problem may recede and we may continue further to make progress on the things that are so important to all of us.

We had a considerable discussion about Poland, that tragic country whose people so long to have some of the freedom which we take for granted and of course we had discussions about the economic state of Poland, and the need of the people to get through the coming winter. [end p4]

We then turned to the other large grouping of which we are both members, to the Community. And I think the news from the Community over the last few days has really been very good and has given us all renewed faith in it and a renewed determination to sort out our problems. To get a steel agreement was an achievement, to get the fair deal on the budget agreement very quickly was also a great achievement. We hope most earnestly that will be followed up by the first long-term agreement which the Community will have made for a long time, namely the fishing agreement. It's not yet called the common fishing policy but nine of us are agreed on such a policy, we hope that in the next few days Denmark will join us so that we can achieve this great, new policy of a common fisheries policy for the Community as a whole. Throughout, of course, our approach has been very constructive to all Community problems. If big budget problems come up in the future and we shall have to tackle those again on a strategic basis.

The third group of subjects which we discussed was the economic group and we both very much looked forward to the economic summit (Chancellor Kohl will of course be seeing theRonald ReaganPresident of the United States before that). We approach it very much in the feeling that the purpose of the summit is to get to know one another's minds and to set in train as much cooperation on policies as we possibly can, because in the end we achieve best cooperation and the best chance for prosperity and stability when each of us is able to set our own economic house in order then we are the better able to cooperate with others. We very much both of us support an open trading system and regret that in many ways other countries are not such vigorous supporters of that system. We recognise that to have an open trading system, and to have competition, it must be genuinely open and it must be genuinely fair competition. There are a number of things on the market at the moment that are not genuinely open and competition which is not genuinely fair.

If I might just say one word about the flavour of the talks. When we met together in London I said that there was a great meeting of minds: there is of course a great meeting of minds and, if I might just change the analogy, they are right on the same wavelength. I think the talks we have had today both between Chancellor Kohl and myself between the groups of ministers—the foreign ministers, the treasury ministers, the trade ministers and defence ministers—they have given us a great feeling of confidence for cooperation and fruitful cooperation in the future. One can ask no more than that. We thank our hosts most warmly for their hospitality and for creating the atmosphere which has led to such a very successful bilateral meeting.