Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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1990 Sep 19 We
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (visiting Hungary)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Hilton Hotel, Budapest
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Michael Brunson, ITN
Editorial comments: After the Press Conference at 1600?
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 970
Themes: Trade, Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (Middle East), Law & order, Northern Ireland, Terrorism

Interviewer

Prime Minister, you have been pretty tough with the governments that you have seen—you have told them point blank that they have got to turn towards market economies, that they have got to go through pain and anguish to get there. Why have you done that?

Prime Minister

Hardly! I do not think I have been anything like as tough as that. I think I might have said the obvious. They have totally and utterly rejected Communism, of course they have. They have lived and suffered under it and they have come to the alternative, which is democracy and you cannot have democracy—it will not stand up—unless you also have a market economy. That is the essential economic backing to political freedom.

I think they are not quite used to thinking in those terms. They are not quite used to thinking in terms of producing goods that will sell. They think in Communist terms: produce goods, never mind whether the people want them, never mind whether you can always [end p1] sell them; if people have not got anything to choose, they will have to have them. That is a completely different way of thought from knowing that unless you produce what people want at a price they are prepared to pay, you will not have a living, so it is not easy to get them to think in the new terms and they really are saying: “Well how do we do it?”

So really we have to try to teach them, teach them how to manage, how to produce products that people will buy, how to keep costs down and that is why we have Know-How Funds—they are very anxious to learn. When you have lived under Communism as long as they have, known its oppression, known the way in which it does not regard anyone as having any personal dignity at all—they are just ciphers as far as the state is concerned—they are naturally anxious to do what they can, anxious to learn, and we must help.

Interviewer

Of course, the contrast has been quite striking, hasn't it? There you were in Czechoslovakia—they have not really started yet—now their inflation is only 3.5 per cent, that is quite comfortable for them. They have started here and they are already up to 30 per cent. There may be some people here perhaps who will think: “My goodness me! That is an awful price to pay for going through this!”

Prime Minister

You can have inflation under Communism and they have had inflation under Communism, because it merely means that you have paid out more than the value of the goods which people have been [end p2] able to produce and sell. You can have it under both systems. What you cannot have under both systems is freedom. You can only have freedom and justice under a democratic system and you can only have competition and therefore getting best value for money through that system in a free market economy. So I do not think people who have lived under Communism would choose to go back to live under it again. It really is a terrible system.

Interviewer

Can I just turn now to the awful news about this latest IRA attack? What sort of campaign is it now that the IRA are waging and what can anybody do about it?

Prime Minister

It is the same campaign that the IRA have always waged. It is a campaign which says: “We do not like the results of democracy in Northern Ireland. The results of democracy in Northern Ireland say that Northern Ireland wants to stay part of the United Kingdom. We, the IRA, don't like that, so we are going to bomb, maim and shoot people out of it and if we cannot succeed in Northern Ireland, we are going to frighten the people of the rest of the United Kingdom by trying it on them and if that is not enough, we are going to try it on British people and sometimes others on the mainland of Europe!” These are murderous, common thugs, little dictators of the kind which is being rejected all over Europe. [end p3]

Interviewer

“Guerrilla warfare” , is that a term you would use?

Prime Minister

Murderous thugs, guerrilla warfare, terrorism, call it what you will—they are common murderous criminals and should be treated that way.

Interviewer

What can you do about it? You hinted today that you were having a look at measures.

Prime Minister

We have to look to see if we can protect vulnerable people even more and we have to look to see what we can do to bring the criminals to heel and to justice. We have to have yet another go.

Interviewer

Very difficult, though, isn't it, when all you have been able to do so far is to tell people to be careful?

Prime Minister

Yes, and they are very careful for a time and they have got to persevere with being careful but equally, anyone and everyone who believes in law and the rule of law, anyone and everyone who believes in democracy, should be prepared to come forward and give evidence against these people to the police, in court, and we will give them protection. If not, we shall not be able to catch them, [end p4] but if we cannot catch them, they will turn and murder again and again and they do turn on some of their own people.

Interviewer

You confirmed in your press conference that it looks as though we are going to get this air embargo. How is that going to work? We are not going to talk about shooting planes out of the sky, are we?

Prime Minister

No, there are well-established international rules already for other aircraft going up and signalling to the one whose cargo is in doubt and getting it to land, then having a look at their cargo. It is also possible that when they file their air flight plan to overfly a country, it should be a condition of accepting that overflight that they will come in to land at a particular airport to have their cargo examined. That should work. I hope it will work with all countries but we will just have to have a look at that.