Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

Interview for CNN (visiting Washington)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Blair House, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Ralph Begleiter, CNN
Editorial comments:

Between 0700 and 0800 MT gave live interviews to the US networks. Copyright in the broadcast from which this transcript is taken is retained by CNN and the transcript is reproduced by permission of CNN.

Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1276
Themes: Foreign policy (USA), Economic policy - theory and process, Defence (general), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Civil liberties, Defence (arms control), Defence (Falklands)

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

Welcome back to CNN, Prime Minister!

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you!

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

The federal deficit of the United States has increased dramatically under President Reagan. You have handled the situation in Great Britain by allowing interest rates to rise, to curb economic growth.

Is that the prescription you would urge on Vice-President Bush? [end p1]

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that the two economies have some similarities, because they are both strong, but they do have very considerable differences. We do not have a budget deficit - we actually have a budget surplus - and so we are redeeming debt. On the other hand, we do have problems with rising wages. The United States has a budget deficit, but seems to have kept its wages and inflation very much under control.

So you cannot just necessarily advise someone else on how they deal with their problems. I have not the slightest shadow of doubt that George Bush and his advisers will come out with the polices which will steadily deal with the problems which America has to tackle.

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

Must they do that right away?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look! He is not even inaugurated as President yet! I just think that you must give full time for full consultation, absorption of the consequences of Congress, full time for them to work out a responsible policy. You do not dash into these things. [end p2]

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

If the Vice-President, when he becomes President, moves quickly to deal with the deficit, one of the places that the pressure is going to be felt to reduce costs is in the American presence in Europe - the defence presence in Europe - and that brings up that question of who shares the burden of defending Western Europe.

Would you agree with a philosophy on the part of the United States that says: “This is one place that the US could afford to cut its expenditures!”?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is absolutely vital for the future of freedom that the United States stays in Europe as part of NATO.

I entirely accept that Europe must share the burden of defence properly and fairly. The United Kingdom does. We also do quite a lot of out-of-area work, as you know, so we are very well aware of that and we are constantly saying to some of our partners that we must take a fair share of the burden.

France is not militarily in NATO, but is very strong on defence. There are perhaps one or two of our partners who could take just a little more and it is quite legitimate for the United States to say to us: “Come along! It is fair sharing of the burden!” [end p3]

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

Which are the couple of partners that you think ought to take a little more of the burden?

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not think that that would necessarily help. Just let us get at them and consult in our own way.

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

One of the other ways that costs could be cut, not only for the United States but also for Western Europe, would be to agree on some conventional force reductions in Europe and, of course, negotiations could begin early next year with the Soviet Union on reducing conventional forces.

One of the obstacles leading to the beginning of those talks is your reluctance at this point to go on with a Human Rights Conference in Moscow. Are you prepared to remove that obstacle now by agreeing to have a Human Rights Conference in Moscow?

PRIME MINISTER:

One must consider the consequences of having a Human Rights Conference in Moscow and that depends upon how the Soviet Union performs. They are very very long way from fully implementing the Helsinki Accords. [end p4]

Certainly, things are improving and we are the first to say that that is very good when they improve, but you know, it is a very very different world that side of the Iron Curtain from this and we have to consider what people who have relied totally on the United States and on Britain always to raise the human rights issue, what the effect on them and on the rest of the world would be if we had a Human Rights Conference in Moscow.

We are going about it a different way. We are saying: “If there is to be one, then there must be certain fundamental changes in the Soviet system!” At the moment, as administrative decisions, more people are being let out. If we give them names, then we have hope that they will be released, but this is an administrative decision - it is not a fundamental right embedded in law. Human rights are embedded in law - in a rule of law. That is very very different from saying: “Well, we are letting out more and we will let out some political prisoners, prisoners of conscience!” They ought not to be in there under any system at all.

But you just go steady - go steady. It is performance that matters and we must have a look at that.

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

Even if it delays the start of conventional force reduction talks? [end p5]

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not believe it will delay. If they are only going to give human rights because they want conventional arms talks to go ahead faster, that is not really a very good reason. Human rights are fundamental. I do not believe it will delay the conventional talks. It is vital that they start. It is vital that the Alliance has a single position and that we stand together, but there you want to get your conventional talks going because you want to get your conventional weapons in balance. That stands on its own, quite apart from human rights.

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

Prime Minister, it has been six years now since Great Britain went to war with Argentina over the Falklands, Malvinas Islands. You have not had any discussions about that situation since then, but you have had discussions on a number of other issues. Argentina is no longer governed by a military dictator - it is governed by a democratically-elected president. There have been human rights improvements that have been dramatic in Argentina.

Has your perception of Argentina changed in the last six years? [end p6]

PRIME MINISTER:

That is not really quite the point. The point is that Argentina invaded British territory. It had been British sovereign territory for a very long time; there were no indigenous people there when Britain went to the Falkland Islands; it is inhabited by British people; there are no Argentine people on those islands.

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

So no change in your view on sovereignty on the Falklands?

PRIME MINISTER:

Certainly not!

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

And no changing on negotiations with the Argentinian Government?

PRIME MINISTER:

Not as far as sovereignty is concerned. We have always been willing to negotiate with the Argentine Government on ordinary commercial relations, even going as far as ordinary diplomatic relations, but not on sovereignty. [end p7]

Never forget the Argentine invaded British territory, quite contrary to the wishes of the people. We went to restore it and to restore the wishes of the people. You believe in selfdetermination in the United States - so do I, so do the people of the Argentine - but we are very ready and have been quite anxious to restore ordinary relations with the Argentine and we are quite pleased if - they will start talks - to do so.

RALPH BEGLEITER, CNN:

Thank you very much for joining us again on CNN, Prime Minister Thatcher.

PRIME MINISTER:

My pleasure!