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 ITN (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: Peter Allen, ITN
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: 905
Themes: Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Northern Ireland, Terrorism

Interviewer

Prime Minister, I know you cannot be specific about what is happening in Wyoming or indeed other talks at the moment, but how do things look? Are you hopeful that we are finally getting towards some real breakthroughs in defence?

Prime Minister

Yes, I think they are having very good talks. I think there are some very good papers before them and I think they are deliberately talking with the object of achieving further progress on START. There are a lot of technicalities that have to be sorted out there and wisely, they want to get it right.

They have some new proposals on the conventional forces. As you know, President Bush put down some at NATO and we actually tabled them on 13 July. We have not had a full reply to those but Mr. Gorbachev wrote to President Bush a letter putting forward some other proposals some of which will help, particularly the one on aircraft, and some of which will cause difficulty. But the point is that some of the sticking points are now being sorted out and I think also it is much more hopeful on the Geneva Talks on chemical weapons where there are one or two new proposals. [end p1]

So all in all, I think we have done a lot of work; it appears to have been slow while that fundamental spadework was being done, but I think we will get a breakthrough with more than one set of negotiations this coming year, in 1990.

There will be balance, because we have both got to keep our defence sure with nuclear deterrence. I think, by the end of the 1990s, people will have cause to be pleased with the results of work that is going on now.

Interviewer

As far as perestroika is concerned, in your talks with Mr. Gorbachev, you did a lot of listening, did you get the feeling he is still in control or in some trouble with the whole process?

Prime Minister

Mikhail GorbachevHe was in very good form. I think he is justified in feeling confident in the future. When you think of the changes he has brought about in freedom of speech, changes in the Soviet Parliament now—they can vote for it—changes in the Party, changes you feel in the atmosphere here. The difficulties he has had to overcome, the difficulties which he knows will be coming but I think he recognises now he can overcome. [end p2]

So yes, they were very good talks and I think one can be reasonably confident that perestroika will succeed. Yes, it will take a time but it will come about. To that personal liberty that has come to the people of the Soviet Union for the first time, you can now add the prospect of greater economic prosperity, which every family wants.

Interviewer

I know you have always got on with him rather well, but you used to bang the table and shout at each other a bit. Do you still do that or is it all sweetness and light?

Prime Minister

No. We argue the point because some points have to be argued. You have to argue them to come through to a reasonable way forward—and so we still argue the point, because unless you do sort it out in detail you are not really going to get a solution.

Interviewer

Just one last brief point about Mr. Gorbachev. Do you detect any slackening at all in his resolve or any feeling that perhaps he is going to have to pull back a bit because of the way things are? [end p3]

Prime Minister

None at all. He believes that having completed the glasnost as it were, enlarging the freedom of speech and movement of ideas, discussion and so on, it is now his bounden duty, together with a partnership with the people of the Soviet Union, to bring about economic prosperity. After all, the Soviet Union is a very big country with a large population. It has reached its position in international affairs because of its military strength. It ought now to reach it because of economic growth and economic strength. That is the prize within its grasp and I believe it will take the opportunity.

Interviewer

Two final questions, the first a very brief one: there were reports that you were going to be invited to speak to the Soviet Parliament.

Prime Minister

I know of no such invitation.

Interviewer

Not yet, anyway!

The final question of a more sombre nature, but obviously you are still getting reports of what has happened with the IRA bombing: have you got anything fresh to say or anything fresh indeed that you might proposa as a result of what has happened? [end p4]

Prime Minister

No, I have nothing fresh. I am in touch with Tom King and I shall get a report when I get back.

We lost a lot of good Marines and others injured. It was a very serious one this.

You cannot be bombed out of your belief in democracy and we will not be bombed out of it. We have had these attacks before. Sometimes they come on the Continent where our soldiers are, sometimes they come on wives and families of soldiers.

Any IRA person who thinks that we can be made to change our mind by force does not know the strength of the British character. We believe in democracy and bombing is rule by force. Everyone should reject it, including all of those people who otherwise have sympathy with the Republican cause in Northern Ireland—they do not, I believe, have sympathy with bombing and Mr. Haughey in the Republic has made that perfectly clear.