Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1987 Jun 9 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

Press Conference after Venice G7

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Press Conference
Venue: Venice
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Exact time and place unknown; after the final session of the conference, around 1245? MT was answering questions from a group of journalists, rather conducting a formal Press Conference.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1471
Themes: Agriculture, Defence (general), Economy (general discussions), Trade, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Terrorism

Question

How has the summit gone? There has been criticism that this has been one long photo opportunity.

Prime Minister

I assure you it has not. We had very long discussions last night; our main Foreign Affairs discussions were last night as usual between heads of Government. As you know they went on until midnight, indeed I think one of the most thorough I have ever attended. You have seen the three communiques have already come out; first on East/West and Arms Control, I think confirming almost everything that we ourselves have been saying on the main East/West relations, i.e. stressing that we think that it is in the interests of the Soviet people that the reforms succeed and also stressing the importance of getting a much better deal on human rights and that we hope the Arms Control negotiations will succeed and reinforcing the importance of the nuclear deterrent,

On terrorism, what you have ever done before has been strengthened this time which is very good,

And on the third thing which of course is very much the problem, the special problem at the moment, on the Iran/Iraq problem and the Gulf. As you have seen the communique that has come out [end p1] there is that we simply must uphold the principle of free passage up the Gulf, and that we hope and will do everything we can to support the Javier Perez de CuellarSecretary General of the United Nations and to see that there is both a just and effective resolution in the Security Council—and we had quite a long discussion on the word “effective” which we came to the conclusion it really included the word “enforceable” . The question as to whether we should add “enforceable” or not, so we came to the conclusion that the word effective included the meaning “enforceable” . Now that was pretty practical. It was a very, very long—I think one of the most detailed—discussions I have ever had last night at one of these meetings and then completed this morning, and then this morning we had a very good discussion on the world economy; all again with the same objectives which we have: we all want steady growth, non-inflationary, sustained. We are all very much aware that one of the problems at the moment is that some countries just have what is called an imbalance. We have not; we are very nearly in balance in a budgetary way and we are also about in balance with our trade. As you know, the United States has both a budgetary deficit and a balance of trade deficit; consequently Japan has this enormous surplus and Germany's growth has faltered a little bit; we hope that it is going to continue to expand because she runs a very successful economy and the question is how to keep the steady growth that we have enjoyed for the last six years going, and Europe in particular is interested because we spend actually less, we have more unemployment and we spend more money; the countries that spend less, as a matter of fact: the United States and Japan have less unemployment, but we want to get down our unemployment—it is all about jobs. [end p2]

We had a long discussion about protectionism. Our purpose, of course, is to open up the Japanese market and we do not think that the steps that they have taken have been enough. We do not think that they will bring down their surplus enough and we want to open up their market, and I had a few words with Mr Nakasone about our particular problems there with him including the Cable and Wireless. We also have spoken about the Third World countries because we are particularly aware of their problem and, as you know, Nigel Lawson did put up a proposal at the IMF meeting—which a number of other people have also taken up—that we should turn our trade aid to them into grants which we are mostly doing in Britain and then we should reschedule their debt to a much longer period because they just cannot pay at the moment and cut the interest … we should all do it together. I also saw this morning, I had a long talk with the Ronald ReaganPresident and also with Mr George Shultz and Mr Baker for nearly an hour so it really has been quite concentrated, very concentrated, extremely worthwhile and these are the two heads of Government meeting.

Question

Given the large number of questions that you faced, was seventeen or eighteen hours in Venice really long enough?

Prime Minister

No, I would like to have gone on because we have got the Foreign Affairs communiques out but I would like to have been there, obviously, when we got the precise world economic communique and [end p3] precisely what we are going to do, but we have got the main lines of it discussed and therefore the drafting will go along the main lines of our discussion. If Nigel Lawson has not already arrived, he will arrive shortly and then take over on that and of course Geoffrey Howe will continue on the other matters but it is just not possible any longer. Had it been last week as it was in 1983 it would have suited better but it has been very very valuable to come … pretty concentrated.

Question

Prime Minister one of the practical steps that this summit has been talking about is farm surpluses and support for farmers. Is it your impression that the support for farmers is going to be reduced over the next few years?

Prime Minister

No, we started this discussion last year in Tokyo because all of us have tremendous surpluses and that of course is costing great sums of money and if we could deal with that problem, because you see the money is going to the surpluses and not to the farmers, so the farmers are not very pleased about it now, and also the money going to the surpluses means that that money is not being released for creating other jobs. We are discussing that in OECD; it came up because everyone is in the same boat—Europe is in the same boat, and with that the United States and Canada and also, of course, the people who subsidise agriculture to an even greater extent are Japan. But we have got to talk about it together. It will be taken further in OECD and we will try to take it a little bit further now [end p4] but the realisation that we cannot just leave it like this, either for the farmers or in the interests of getting more jobs with that amount of money, is getting ever more present.

Question

Prime Minister, are you going back well satisfied with this meeting particularly because of the references made to the continuing need for nuclear deterrents to preserve the peace?

Prime Minister

Well, that is absolutely vital and there was no difficulty in getting that because we all believe it—no difficulty at all. We all believe that the nuclear deterrent is going to be vital to our peace for many years to come but what we are especially pleased about is against that background we have been firm in stationing things like Cruise and Pershing and it is that now which for the first time looks as if it is going to be successful in getting agreements to reduce nuclear weapons in a verifiable and balanced way, but the nuclear deterrent will still be absolutely vital to preserve the peace. It has been … very successful year … very successful on terrorism, very successful on Iran because the French have some ships, we have some ships, our Armilla patrol looks after our ships, and yes it has, and the economy just exactly all the things we have been doing and people want those things to continue.

Question

You said it was not electioneering but it cannot have done you much harm back home? [end p5]

Prime Minister

Look, I am representing my country at the World Economic Summit as I have done for over eight years now—absolutely vital that I came; Britain has had over the years a tremendous influence on this. The policies we have been practising have become the orthodox policies of the World Economic Summit. No-one questions them now: durable, non-inflationary, sustained growth—no-one questions them—and on East/West, as you know, the things which we have said and also the things which I think I was perhaps the first person to say in Moscow “Yes it is in the interests of the West that Mr Gorbachev 's reforms succeed because it will mean a little bit extra freedom for them within limits,” and we shall watch particularly on the human rights side—that is in the communique—and also the nuclear deterrent. But we are, we are on course for getting the first reduction in nuclear weapons that we have ever had. You see the SALT agreements were limiting the expansion but they were not actually talking about reduction and it is not only this; it has been the steady policies that we have put across over the eight years since I have been here and they really are beginning to bear fruit.