Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for Soviet TV

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: ?No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Vsevolod Shishkovsky, Soviet TV
Editorial comments:

Time and place uncertain.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1227
Themes: Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Defence (arms control), Civil liberties


Prime Minister, first of all, thank you very much for meeting us and giving this exclusive interview for Soviet Television.

Prime Minister

It is my pleasure.


Mrs. Thatcher, what is your opinion on the signing of the Soviet-American Treaty eliminating intermediate range nuclear weapons?

Prime Minister

It is an excellent treaty. Good news, both for the Soviet Union and for the West. Good news, not only because of the treaty itself, but because if we can agree that one then we can agree on others, so it is a promise for the future that we can both of us have a sure defence at a lower level of weapons. [end p1]


Did I understand you right, that this treaty just signed in Washington will be a new stage in the development of international relations and if so, what prospects do you see for the future?

Prime Minister

Yes, it is a new stage because it is the first treaty the world has had which reduces nuclear weapons. It is a new stage because it was difficult to negotiate. Each of us wanted to be sure of one another and we do not take one another's word on trust in matters like this. You have to have provisions to verify that each is doing what they say. Those provisions were difficult to negotiate, but because the will, the resolve, was there, because we all wanted it, we managed to get it right. That also is new.

I think the personalities helped. President Reagan and I have always been very close and right from the beginning I found it very easy to discuss and debate in a very animated way with Mr. Gorbachev, neither of us giving an inch, but actually coming to a greater understanding and a possible way through by this very very detailed and friendly discussion.

So it is a new era in two ways:

first, the achievement and the promise of the future;

second, that the personalities concerned are all right for the times and the times are right for us; [end p2] and, you know, I am just very much conscious that we are coming up to the end of the millenium, the year 2000, and we have got about twelve years to got the next century right - and we are all going to make a tremendous effort.


Thank you. While in Brize Norton, Mr. Gorbachev pointed out that the role of Europe under the current circumstances will have to increase for it is impossible to solve any major issues without it.

What do you see the role of Europe as?

Prime Minister

Well, I have always seen the role of Europe as a very very important one. After all, Europe has been, I am afraid, the battle-field of two world wars and that is why it is so vital that we get the arms control agreements right, but also, that we go beyond that.

The relations between East and West Europe are not just those of arms control. They are those of largely European peoples.

We are also interested in the enlargement of human rights. We see perestroika and glasnost as being an enormously significant move forward. That is freeing-up people, ideas, movement, personal responsibility, personal initiative.

We wish to see the Helsinki Accords honoured. [end p3]

So we do not see the relationship just as an arms control one, but when we are able to agree on arms control and therefore each have our defence at a lower level of weaponry, we hope we will get more arrangements people-to-people, more trust and more good will.

Of course, it takes a time to build up. Of course, we will watch very carefully - you us, and we you - but the hope and the possibility is there, so that there should never again be a war which tears Europe apart and which brings such terrible casualties and sorrows and tragedies of the kind which some of us have seen in our own lifetime, and we still have a generation, in both the Soviet Union and in Europe and in the United States, which makes it our duty to do everything to see that that shall not happen again.


Thank you. You just met and had talks with Mikhail Sergei Gorbachev here in England.

Prime Minister

We were delighted. We were so thrilled to welcome Mikhail Gorbachevhim. It was a lovely visit - both he and Mrs. Gorbachev - and the whole of Britain was thrilled, thrilled that he came, thrilled at the warmth of the relationship, thrilled that we have managed to have the achievement of this treaty and seeing it as a sign of hope for the future - not euphoric - realistic, but hopeful. [end p4]


How does the current relationship between Britain and the Soviet Union stand?

Prime Minister

It is good. We are trying to get a closer trading relationship.

Also, when I came to the Soviet Union and I asked Mr. Gorbachev about a certain case of people wanting to leave Russia, to be reunited with their families - and I left a considerable list - everything that he promised me to do, he has done. You see, it is so strange to us that if people want to leave a country they cannot and that is why we entered into the Helsinki Accords. But everything Mr. Gorbachev promised me he would do on that, he has, and we hope that the efforts will be stepped up.

We are anxious for it not to be just a defence relationship, but for more trading relationships, more visits, more cultural agreements. We would like to welcome more schools, more families to Britain, so that we build a much closer relationship and understanding, particularly with the new era in the Soviet Union which Mr. Gorbachev very boldly and courageously has initiated, and we watch with the greatest possible interest and hope. [end p5]


One last question, Mrs. Thatcher.

Would you like to send some wishes to the Soviet Union viewers, particularly in this season?

Prime Minister

Of course, I would love to. May I just put it against this background?

Mrs. Gorbachev went to see a school. The school was doing their annual nativity play. There were people outside to welcome her. She loves children, and they were all over her, and she said to one little boy: “Tell me! Do you know about the Soviet Union?” Oh yes, he knew about the Soviet Union, and thinking perhaps, you know, that he had only been told the day before because of her visit: “How long have you known about the Soviet Union?” “All my life!” he said. Is it not lovely? He was nine, and he has been asked to the Soviet Union.

So it is specially significant for us that at Christmas, which means so much to us - at a time of pence and goodwill - that we are able to welcome this new treaty; that we are able to welcome it as heralding a new era in our relationship, a closer one; that we are conscious that next year I think it is a thousand years since Christianity came to the Soviet Union. [end p6]

So we send you, from all the people of Britain, a message of warmth, of goodwill, of hope and of all our love and best wishes for the future.


Thank you very much for this exclusive interview, Mrs. Thatcher, and let me wish you and your family all the very best - peace and prosperity to the British people.

Prime Minister

Peace and prosperity to us all! Thank you!