Written Responses to Questions Submitted by the Soviet Newspaper Izvestiya
Mr. President, this is your second interview with Izvestiya.
General Secretary Gorbachev will soon be in
The President. The world has
unquestionably become safer, and the improvement in U.S.-Soviet relations has
been a contributing factor. Both sides are pursuing a policy of ever-increasing
dialog. In the 2 years since General Secretary Gorbachev and I first met in
Americans have also noted with great interest the efforts at reform underway in
your country. We wish the people of the
trends can only be considered positive, but many problems continue to exist.
Mistrust and suspicion have built up over many years, and they have their basis
in history and current realities. Forty years after Hitler's defeat,
I take satisfaction from the fact that we have established a dialog that deals
candidly with the entire range of issues that concern, and often divide, our two countries. We need to continue that dialog
and strengthen it in every way we can. That is what our meeting in
The Soviet-American agreement on the complete elimination of two classes of
nuclear weapons -- medium-range missiles and operational, tactical missiles --
stems from your negotiations with General Secretary Gorbachev in
The President. The INF treaty is
significant because for the first time in history the major nuclear powers have
agreed to reduce, not simply limit, the buildup of nuclear weapons. It
eliminates an entire class of
INF treaty specifies the most stringent verification regime ever. No longer
shall we rely only upon national technical means to monitor compliance, for the
treaty gives both sides the right to onsite inspection, including short-notice
inspection of sites where activity forbidden by the treaty might be suspected.
I hope the INF treaty will be a step toward more glasnost in Soviet military affairs. You should strive for broader disclosure to your own citizens of your military budgets, force structures, and weapons modernization programs. This could help to build confidence needed for more comprehensive arms reductions as well as better political relations. The INF treaty is a good omen, for it shows that through hard work and a realistic approach we can achieve positive results.
Future Arms Reductions
Can we hope that a limit to the arms race will not stop with an agreement for
medium- and short-range missiles? In particular, one is reminded of your joint
statement with General Secretary Gorbachev in
The President. I have no intention of
stopping with the INF treaty. In fact, the
From the beginning of my administration, I placed the highest priority on achieving deep and equitable cuts in strategic offensive arms. To ensure that such an agreement genuinely enhances strategic stability, we have insisted that it reduce and limit the number of warheads on ballistic missiles. These weapons are particularly dangerous and destabilizing, because they can reach their targets in less than 30 minutes. We will also insist the treaty be effectively verifiable -- an especially complex task. I am encouraged by the unprecedented scope of the verification measures agreed to in the INF treaty, but a START agreement would, of course, be more far-reaching.
Deep reductions in offensive weapons would significantly help reduce the danger of nuclear attack, so would further advances in the development of strategic defenses. I know your government claims that my Strategic Defense Initiative is a destabilizing ``militarization of space,'' but this, frankly, is a gross misrepresentation. The world will be a safer place if both superpowers shift toward strategic defenses while radically reducing strategic offensive arsenals. Strategic defenses can intercept an attacker's missiles, but do not threaten people. They permit a military strategy that deters war by protecting people instead of targeting them. SDI is a scientific research and development program to explore whether new, advanced technologies might make effective defenses possible in the near future.
whole world knows that the U.S.S.R. has pioneered the field of strategic
defenses and has had a program to develop them long before my 1983 decision on
SDI. In a recent interview on American television, General Secretary Gorbachev
acknowledged that the
In addition to achieving large reductions in strategic nuclear forces, we should also move ahead to correct dangerous imbalances of conventional and chemical forces, where the U.S.S.R. enjoys large advantages. This will be a complex process, because allies are directly concerned, and because the military forces themselves are complicated. But I am happy to say that both sides express willingness to move forward.
Q. One of the most dramatic and potentially explosive problems of our time is the enormous external debt of many developing countries. Many experts believe that this cannot possibly end well. In general, if one looks at the situation more broadly, without a solution to the problems of the developing world, there is not, nor can there be, genuine security for anyone. What solution do you see to the problem of debts of developing countries?
The President. In recent decades, the developing world has been the scene of a more fundamental trend, namely, the flourishing of economies that have avoided the rigidities of centralized planning and given full scope to individual initiative and entrepreneurship. For instance, many of the developing economies of the Asia-Pacific region are booming, particularly in those nations where economic freedom provides people with the incentive to better their lives. And some African countries have recently experienced accelerated growth, particularly in agriculture, as a result of easing centralized restrictions.
borrowing in itself is not a problem. Countries need foreign and domestic
capital to make the investments that will lead to economic growth and
key to success in this effort continues to be a greater opening of markets.
Lasting growth can only be achieved by allowing more scope at home for
individual initiative and entrepreneurship. And the
Since World War II, we have seen a remarkable trend toward interdependence among national economies. Combined with policy reforms to liberate the creative potential of individual men and women, policies that foster open competition and free trade can create a favorable environment for developed and developing nations to solve economic problems and to raise standards of living for their people.
also recognize that the developing world needs special assistance to promote
economic development. No country has been more generous than
Q. Mr. President, if we say that the most important international affairs topic for American public opinion is the upcoming meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev, then, judging by the American press, the number one domestic concern right now is the recent crash of the stock market, its consequences for Americans and for the economy of the country. Please explain to our readers what, in your opinion, is the cause of the crash? How serious is it?
The President. Let me begin by saying
that the American economy is currently stronger and healthier than ever. We are
experiencing the longest economic expansion since World War II. As we speak,
the standard of living of the average American is among the highest in the
world. Nearly two-thirds of American households own their own homes. Americans
drive more than 160 million motor vehicles, more than 1\1/2\ cars per driver.
The overwhelming majority of Americans have private telephones and televisions
which in most areas of the country can pick up dozens, and in some cases hundreds,
of television stations. We are in the midst of a high-tech explosion with
computer home shopping, compact disc stereo, and modular car telephones, to
name a few -- all available to consumers. Mr. Gorbachev will be able to see the
results of this sustained prosperity when he comes to
The stock market today is at roughly the same level it was throughout 1986, and at that time, it had never been higher. The continuing high level of stock and bond assets represents real wealth for millions of Americans. More than 70 percent of American households own interest-earning assets at financial institutions, and one-fifth own stocks and mutual funds. As a result, millions of ordinary people have a stake in the economic growth and prosperity of their country.
is important to recognize the role that stock markets play in the global
economy. Stock ownership entitles individuals to vote in selecting the
management of a company and to share in the profits of the enterprise.
Institutions such as labor union pension funds also own and trade shares for
the benefit of millions of workers. This system of open markets, built upon the
principles of entrepreneurship and stock ownership, has resulted in average
income levels in non-Communist developed countries some 60 percent higher per
capita than that in East-bloc countries. And it is why per capita consumption
It is the nature of markets to fluctuate, both up and down. But it is the sharing of both the risks and rewards in markets that provides the foundation for the creation of wealth and a higher standard of living. Through public stock markets, any individual can sell his idea and raise money to pursue it by starting his own company. Larger enterprises can raise needed capital only by convincing the marketplace of the economic value of their planned investments. The fact that our economy has remained on a healthy growth path throughout the recent adjustment in stock markets is testimony to the strength of economics based on individual initiative and open competition.
In your speeches, you have more than once stated that improvement of
Soviet-American relations depends on fulfilling certain demands concerning
changes in our society. The correctness and the fairness of these questions is
something that can be argued. Our question concerns something else: What, in
your opinion, can and must the
The President. You are wrong to speak
of American ``demands.'' Who can doubt the interest that the world community
has in the changes taking place inside the
The Western World, and increasingly the outside world, has a well-developed and tested concept of democracy. Democracy means the rule of law, a system of checks and balances that limits the power of the state and protects the rights of individual citizens. It means regular elections contested by different parties presenting competing programs for the people's choice and mandate. It requires an independent judiciary that effectively protects due process of law and the inalienable rights to freedom of speech, conscience, press, assembly, and worship.
Americans fiercely defend our democracy, and we sincerely believe every person on Earth is entitled to liberty and human and political rights. We do not try to force our system on others. But we also cannot ignore the clear lesson of history: Countries which respect the rights and freedoms of their own citizens are more likely to respect the rights and freedoms of other nations. Real peace and real democracy, therefore, go hand in hand.
ask what the
General Secretary Gorbachev and I announced a new agreement on exchanges 2
years ago in Geneva, well over a hundred thousand Americans have come to the
U.S.S.R. to see and learn about your country, many of them young people. Many
more of your citizens have visited
can assure you that I and my successors, too, will continue to confront the
problems in our relations both realistically and constructively. We shall
maintain and build upon the engagement we have begun. The American people will
remain as they have always been: peaceloving,
generous, and friendly -- extending a warm welcome to visitors to our shores.
As we greet General Secretary Gorbachev and his delegation, we shall be
reaching out our hand to all the people of the
Note: The questions and answers were released by the Office of the Press Secretary on December 5.