Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1990 Sep 19 We
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for TV-AM (visiting Hungary)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: Hilton Hotel, Budapest
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Gerry Foley, TV-AM
Editorial comments: After the Press Conference at 1600?
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1378
Themes: Economy (general discussions), Monetary policy, Trade, European Union (general), Economic, monetary & political union, Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Law & order, Northern Ireland, Terrorism

Interviewer

Prime Minister, do you think the economies of Hungary and Czechoslovakia can make a successful transformation to a market economy without the danger of real social and economic upheaval?

Prime Minister

Yes, they can. I think Hungary is likely to do it first because for years they have been trying to get a little bit more freedom from the Soviet Union and so they have had a little bit more experience of some small business, which means people make their own decisions within certain limits, so there is a little bit more understanding of how it works and now they have got really a truly Centre-Right Government I think it will be quicker.

Czechoslovakia will come along. Do not forget, all of these countries have lived under Communism with its oppressions, with its poverty, with its shortages, with its no human dignity whatsoever and so they totally reject that and are very anxious to come to our way, but they have to have a new way of thought and a new way of action. [end p1]

Interviewer

You have asked people here, in your words, “to endure the pain and suffering while economic changes are taking place” but at the same time, back home, after eleven years of your administration, people are having to endure the suffering of inflation at 10.6 per cent and crippling mortgage rates. Why should people continue to be patient with you?

Prime Minister

Because we have more jobs than we have ever had before. We have, in fact, a very efficient industry and our reputation abroad has gone up because of the way in which we privatised our industry and it has become profitable. We have got the highest standard of living we have ever known and also we have still got very good investment in the future in industry, and it is because of the strength of this industry that it has taken rather longer than we thought to slow it down. Of course, the oil price increases have come at a very difficult time for us but we still, short of the oil price factor, will I hope be over the worst of inflation very soon, which means that the policy that we have been pursuing is working to slow down the growth below what we had it before.

Interviewer

You want the European Community to keep its door open to the new democracies in Eastern Europe. Isn't this at least partially explained by your dislike of the way in which the …   . Community is heading the move towards full political union and at the same time, your fear of possible German domination? [end p2]

Prime Minister

It is not my dislike of it; it is the fact that I believe it is wrong. I do not believe in increasing bureaucracy on the part of a Commission at the centre which is not accountable democratically. That is wrong. That is Socialism and you take it much further and it gets to an all-powerful state, so it is much more fundamental than not liking it. I believe it is wrong and I believe also that the East Europeans would reject it in the same way as we do. After all, they have just left that way behind.

The European Community must be much more democratically-minded and the decisions must be accountable. We get the accountability at present and I think the only way in which you will ever get it, is that each nation is accountable to its own national parliament for what it has agreed. That is true accountability but that means that your way forward for the Community is on the continuance of the nation state, each being accountable to their own parliaments.

I certainly think that the East European countries will insist on that. They have been in a system which tried to have no regard at all for nationalities and now they are freeing themselves from the system and now the system is being released somewhat, they find everyone is rather proud of their nationality and why not? It is usually a very powerful influence. It can be a very powerful [end p3] influence for good in a democratic society. It is only when it gets out of hand in a non-democratic society that it can be turned to totally wrong purposes.

You asked about German domination. Germany after unification will be the biggest country in the European Community and it will be a very successful industrial one although there are massive problems to cope with in Eastern Europe because those same people, one part under a democratic system have done well, the same people under a Communist system have done very badly; the property is bad—they are run down; the goods will not sell in the West and you see what a political system can do on the one side for good under democracy, on the other side for bad under Communism—to the same people.

But we also shall have quite some influence in the Community, so of course will France, so of course will Spain, so of course will Italy and also we have the greatest possible respect always for the views which are put forward by Holland and other countries too so I think we can keep our end up.

Interviewer

Following the IRA attacks this week, you have talked about the possibility of strengthening our defences against further attacks. What might be involved?

Prime Minister

I cannot tell you specifically. We have looked at various things before and we shall look at them again. There are two [end p4] things: one is strengthening the protection we give to people whom we think may be vulnerable and enlarging the numbers of people who we know now are vulnerable; and second, we are not going to catch these people unless all of those who know anything about them, who have reason to suspect they have seen them or they have harboured them or they know someone who has, come forward, give their information—and they can give it anonymously—to the police, it neverless will help us to track them down if those who have actually seen what has happened are prepared to come forward and give evidence. This is the duty of a free society and unless people do it, we are not going to catch these people and we must appeal to them to be courageous and come forward and the police will do their level best to protect them when they do.

Interviewer

Do you think the Dublin Government is doing enough?

Prime Minister

We shall also have to look at that as well but I must say that the IRA have also attacked in the Republic. They do not hesitate, when they need more money, to go and attack places where if they break in they will find it and they are not the least bit concerned about whom they may kill or maim on the way. It is in Dublin's interest as well to catch these people. These people are anti-democracy. They do not like the result of the ballot in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland wants to stay with the United Kingdom. Because they do not like the result of the ballot, they [end p5] think that they can bomb, maim and kill people out of their decisions and frighten others. They cannot! They will never win! But every single person must help to defeat them, otherwise the shooting and the killing will go on.

Interviewer

Finally, Prime Minister, on Iraq, what difference would an air embargo make?

Prime Minister

It will tighten the shipping embargo. What is happening is that some critical supplies—they may be critical spare parts or particular things which Iraq wants—are being flown in. We have all noticed an increase in the number of flights over certain countries. That means that they are getting certain materials which are vital to them. We therefore have to take action and also have to try to enforce it and to ensure that when the flight plan is filed countries say: “If you are going to overfly our country and if we are going to give you permission to overfly our country, you must agree to land at a certain airfield in our country to have your cargo inspected!” and then there are certain international agreed ways of bringing an aircraft down, buzzing it to bring it down to inspect.

It may be that not all countries will operate that but we would soon see the ones who did not and report them to the Sanctions Committee. It is vital that the sanctions embargo is made to work 100 per cent. [end p6]

Interviewer

And do you think Saddam Hussein can be defeated without recourse to military action?

Prime Minister

That I do not know. I most earnestly hope so. The more absolute the embargo, the better the chances.