New Year's Radio Address
to the People of the Soviet Union
December 31, 1986
evening, and s novym godom [Happy New Year]. This is Ronald Reagan, President of
the United States of America. And I come to you this
evening with a New Year's message from the people of America to the peoples of the Soviet Union. I had hoped to address
you by way of television, and to have General Secretary Gorbachev address the
American people on United States television, as was done
last year. Unfortunately, your government officials declined our offer to have
such an exchange of greetings. I regret that we were not able to take full
advantage of this opportunity to continue to build mutual trust, which is so
important to building enduring peace. As I have quoted to the General Secretary
in our past personal meetings: Weapons don't build trust, mistrust builds
I come to you tonight over Voice of America. This season, in and around the New
Year, is a season of love and hope; a time for reflection; a time of
expectation; a time when people in America, just like people all
over the world, gather with family and friends to remember in many different
ways the blessings of God and to look to the future with hope. That's what I
would like to do with you, the Soviet peoples, tonight -- share our common
hopes for the future, our hopes for peace on Earth, our hopes for good will among
all humanity, our hopes for a better world for ourselves and our children. Yes,
there are enormous differences between our two systems, but there is also
something the American and the Soviet people share -- something as universal
and eternal as what a mother feels when she hears the cry of her newborn child
-- and it is those common hopes.
New Year's Day I spoke to you of my hopes and prayers and those of the American
people for lasting peace between our two countries. I said I was determined
that our two governments should build on the foundations of the Geneva summit and make
advances in all areas of our relations. Well, since then a lot has happened.
Both governments have worked hard together. As you know, there have been
setbacks and frustrations, as well as progress. I'm disappointed that we didn't
accomplish more. And yet in 1986 the United States and Soviet Union took major steps toward
think the most important thing is where you succeed, and we have succeeded in a
lot. At the Geneva summit, our two
governments agreed to accelerate negotiations in all aspects of our
relationship -- including reducing nuclear stockpiles and increasing both
sides' security, encouraging respect for human rights, resolving regional
conflicts peacefully, and broadening contacts between our two countries. And
so, in the months that followed the summit, our negotiators worked long and
hard. Then this fall, Mr. Gorbachev and I met again in Reykjavik, Iceland, to see if we could
speed up progress even further. And we did move things a good distance forward.
Some have even been kind enough to say that on many issues, we made more
progress in those 2 days than our diplomats made in the last 2 years.
a great deal of work remains, but both sides are closer now than ever before.
At Reykjavik we agreed on the
desirability of real reductions in nuclear arsenals and on the ultimate goal of
eliminating all nuclear weapons. We agreed that as a start, we could eliminate
all but a small number of U.S. and Soviet
intermediate-range nuclear missiles. We also agreed to cut in half the number
of strategic arms over a 5-year period. And we agreed that it's necessary to
have effective verification of any final agreements. We discussed as well
approaches to strategic defenses, approaches that the United States believes would protect
the security and interests of both sides. As part of the strategic defense
discussion, I proposed the elimination of all U.S. and Soviet offensive
ballistic missiles over a 10-year period. I suggested that, as we had agreed,
we cut strategic offensive forces in half in the first 5 years, and then that
we go on to eliminate all remaining offensive ballistic missiles of all ranges
in the next 5 years. As you've heard, we did not reach an agreement on any plan
for the second 5 years. We in America are ready to discuss
this or other proposals for moving beyond the reduction of the first 5 years.
After our Reykjavik meeting, both sides
took time to reflect on what had been accomplished and on ways to move forward
again. And then the United States followed up at the Geneva negotiations with
concrete proposals to implement the understandings of Reykjavik.
we look to the new year, we in America remain ready to
continue to do everything necessary to turn this hard work into verifiable
agreements. Our hope is that the Soviet Union will approach
negotiations with this same spirit. Peace is built not just on agreements about
arms reduction but on understanding between peoples. It hasn't always made the
headlines of either your newspapers or ours, but the United States and the U.S.S.R. have
made progress here too by expanding exchanges and other contacts between our
countries. Scientific, educational, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges, especially
among our young people, have grown. We in America would like to see more
of these exchanges in all areas. The American people are deeply concerned with
the fate of individual people, wherever they might be throughout the world. We
believe that God gave sacred rights to every man, woman, and child on Earth.
``Rights,'' as the founders of our country wrote, ``to life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness'' -- rights that include the right to speak and worship
freely and the right of each of us to build a better future for ourselves and
our families. Respect for those rights is the bedrock on which our system is
built. But let us remember that respect for those rights, for the freedom and
dignity of individuals, is also the bedrock on which any true and enduring
peace between our countries must be built.
there's a restoration of those rights to a man or a woman [Andrei Sakharov and Yelena Bonner], as
has happened recently, it helps strengthen the foundations for trust and
cooperation between our countries. And by the same token, whenever those rights
are denied the foundation is seriously weakened. Much more can and should be
done to strengthen that foundation. We welcome progress in this area as much as
we welcome it in the effort to secure nuclear arms reduction. In fact, progress
here and in all key areas of our relationship is essential if we are to build
on this foundation.
between our countries is also affected by events throughout the world. We
Americans are proud that on this New Year's Day not a single American soldier
is engaged in combat anywhere. But even so, we cannot forget that many tragic
and bloody conflicts rage around the globe -- conflicts that are causing untold
human suffering, and that could spread. The United States stands ready to support
all serious efforts to find peaceful solutions to regional conflicts. And we're
ready to work with the Soviet Union and any other country
to that end. There are many complex issues to be discussed between the United States and the Soviet Union. Resolving them will
not be easy, but the things most worth doing seldom are.
1986 our two countries made progress on some of the toughest questions of all.
In 1987 we'll make more, I'm sure. We must continue together on the journey
toward lasting peace. Yes, peace is a journey. Peace is also a dream. For two
centuries, men and women from all over the world have left their homelands to
make often dangerous passages to the shores of my country, to a land of peace
where they had the freedom to make their hopes into realities for their
families and themselves. They had a dream, and we in America call it the American
dream. But to live in a land of peace and hope is not just the American dream;
it's the dream of all people, of all lands.
an old verse that goes, ``Happy or sad, my beloved, you are as beautiful as a
Russian song, as beautiful as a Russian soul.'' All the
world knows and honors the suffering and courage of the Soviet peoples in the
Second World War, just as all the world knows and honors the nobility of your
diverse heritage in literature and the arts. That great heritage springs from a
magnificence of the soul that no suffering can ever obscure. That suffering has
also only ennobled a soul and culture that have in turn enriched all of
civilization. Let us in this season of hope hear the voice of this soul that
encompasses so many peoples and traditions. Let us hear the voice of all
humanity's soul -- the voice that speaks through Leo Tolstoy and through William
Faulkner, through the martyrs, the poets, and the saints. And, yes, the voice
that speaks also through a mother's prayer -- with a message that you can see
in a child's eyes, a prayer for peace and a message of good will to all.
once again, on behalf of the American people, let me wish you all a happy,
healthy, and prosperous new year. Thank you. God bless you, and good night.
The President's remarks were recorded at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, CA, on December 29, for
broadcast in the Soviet Union on January
by the Voice of America.