The end of 1988 brought tragedy and hope:
— The tragedies of earthquake, train crash, and air disaster
— The hope which came from the generous response of people everywhere. Barriers were forgotten as the needs of humanity were put first.
But hope sprang also from the great events and achievements of the year:
— from the summits between West and East, the visit of President Reagan to Moscow, his speech in London's Guildhall—one of his finest, and the Arms Control negotiations;
— from the pronouncements and reforms of Mr. Gorbachev, and his speech at the United Nations;
— from the increasing freedom of speech and movement within and from the Soviet Union;
— from progress towards the Single Market in Europe within the framework for the future which was set out in my speech at Bruges;
— and, at home, from the highest standards of living we have ever known, lower taxes, lower unemployment and far more jobs.
And we take strength from the leading part which Britain plays in all these great matters, both at home and overseas.
These are not isolated events. They are part of a sequence which began ten years ago and which is beginning to bear fruit. They were founded on these convictions: — that it is a sure defence which enables us to extend the hand of friendship across the great European divide between East and West.
— that higher living standards are brought about by the initiative and enterprise of men and women within the framework of a just law. [end p1]
Yes, there have been and will always be difficult times. But sticking to those beliefs shows us the way ahead.
And what of 1989—the closing year of this decade, this great reforming decade? The prospects are better than at any time this century.
— As our people have become more prosperous, so they have become more generous towards others.
— As they have earned more, they have begun to build up their own capital and enjoy the sense of independence it brings.
— As business has become more flourishing so it is more active in the community, in the inner cities, in co-operating with universities, in building close contacts with schools, in sponsoring the arts, and in contributing to all good causes
— As Britain's wealth has grown, so we have the best ever Health Service, better pensions and better housing.
— As countries know more about one another, they do more together—more to tackle environmental problems, more to reduce barriers to trade, more to bring material benefits and opportunities to those who have too little or too few.
And so the pace of peace-making quickens. Not peace at any price, but peace with freedom and justice.
Next year we hope to see:
— genuine negotiations begin in the Middle East on the Arab-Israeli question;
— progress towards a comprehensive settlement between Iran and Iraq, and on the problems which have vexed Cyprus for a decade;
— further moves on reductions in conventional and chemical weapons; [end p2]
— more co-operation to deal with world environmental problems which could otherwise cause unknown climatic change;
— and close and effective action against terrorism, violence and drugs.
Truly it is a world which needs us all to pull together as we scan the horizon for the future that is to be.
And I assure you that Britain will be at the forefront in these great endeavours in the coming year.