Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1989 Sep 23 Sa
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC (visiting Moscow)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Centre, Moscow
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Martin Sixsmith, BBC
Editorial comments: 1600-1630 or 1700 onwards: the appointment diary records two press conferences during the day, one of which was probably given over to interviews.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 857
Themes: Terrorism, Northern Ireland, Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Defence (general)

Interviewer

Will the IRA bomb attack on Deal make you re-think your policies on Northern Ireland?

Prime Minister

No, of course they will not, any more than any other previous occasion has done so. No, you cannot bomb people out of democracy. The majority of people in Northern Ireland wish to stay with the United Kingdom. Any number of explosions will not stop that. On the contrary, the explosions make us even more determined not to be defeated.

Interviewer

The Soviets are fond of comparing their nationalities problem with the problems you are facing in Northern Ireland. Did you have any advice to offer Mr Gorbachev? [end p1]

Prime Minister

No, Mr Gorbachev made his position perfectly clear at the Plenum on Nationalities which was held last week. He made it very clear in a speech, he really wants to go ahead and get increasing prosperity for all peoples in the Soviet Union and he made it clear that he tries the policy of reconciliation, will try to solve the problems that way.

Interviewer

You have been one of the strongest supporters of his economic reforms and yet the standard of living has dropped under Gorbachev and people are getting restless. Did you counsel him on what he might do next?

Prime Minister

It is not for me to counsel him on what to do. But I think it is for me to have the chance to point out one or two things. First, the freedom of speech and expression in the Soviet Union is of a level which could never have been thought of three or four years ago. People can now vote and have voted and voted off people, off the Party, whom they did not like, they have voted others on, they have open discussion and debate, we have all seen it on television, they can get newspapers and periodicals, there is open discussion about the things which happened in Stalin's time and about some of the terrible things that have happened in the history of communism. [end p2]

They have freedom of expression and debate and discussion. That is a great plus and you can feel for yourself, the tension in the atmosphere has gone, that is very good of itself. I believe you have to have political reform before you can get economic reform.

Now I think people may think that because political reform has been so effective they can just sit back and wait for the economic reform to come to them. But the economic reform is not just up to government. Government provides the new framework but the people have to take advantage of it. There is no such thing as effortless prosperity. They have to work harder, they have to produce the kind of goods that people want, they have to take their own initiative, they themselves have to make a response.

If they need retraining they can be retrained, if they need management training we can get that. If they need that kind of help from the Western countries we will give it to them.

But they are working for something in the Soviet Union that they know will work because it works in the outside world. It is not a new piece of research or technology. It is trying to bring about here, with a talented people, the kind of prosperity that we in Western Europe and the United States have had. It will take a longer time but it will come about. [end p3]

Interviewer

You warned this week that the military threat from the Soviet Union still exists. Did Mr Gorbachev reassure you on that score?

Prime Minister

Mr Gorbachev and I, right from the beginning, understood one thing, that each of us has a right to a sure, deterrent defence. The point of keeping weaponry, whether it be conventional or nuclear, and you must have nuclear to have a strong deterrent, is to prevent war. You do not prevent wars by getting rid of all your weapons, you prevent wars by being prepared to face anything which might happen from any direction whatsoever that it may come. The knowledge that you are prepared, the knowledge that you have a nuclear deterrent, is what stops other people from starting some of the terrible wars which we have known in the past.

I know that, he knows that, and therefore when we are talking about disarmament we make certain that the fundamental deterrent capability which both of us have remains intact.

Interviewer

Finally, did you get the impression that the future of perestroika is safe or did you get the sense that it might be under threat from the growing problems within the country? [end p4]

Prime Minister

I get the impression that there will continue to be difficulties along the path, there always are when you start out on great endeavours. But I think people know that after seventy years of communism they got neither personal liberty, indeed on the contrary, they got no personal liberty and great fear and they did not get prosperity either.

Now they have got personal liberty and the fear seems to have gone or at any rate it is dwindling very fast and I believe they can see that if they tackle the difficulties firmly and keep their eye on the main prize they will get it. They know that they can have a better life, a better standard of living, and I think it is up to them now to respond to the opportunities that are available.