Toast at a Dinner Hosted by Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev
General Secretary, Mrs. Gorbachev, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, Ambassador
and Mrs. Dubinin, and ladies and gentlemen: We're
coming to the end of the second full day of your visit to our land. It's been
an eventful 2 days. But now that you've seen our Nation's Capital, Mr. General
Secretary, I only wish you could have a chance to meet the people who normally
work and do business here. Unfortunately, they're all in
everyone in the
Embassy's chancery was just across from the Kremlin, and many of the Americans
stationed there in those days were still in uniform. When they walked outside
to join in the celebration, the crowd spotted them, lifted them onto their
shoulders, and carried them on to
Mr. General Secretary, we've accomplished much so far in this summit -- a pathbreaking agreement that for the first time will
eliminate an entire class of
We have prided ourselves, Mr. General Secretary, on our realism, that we've come to this summit without illusions, with no attempts to gloss over the deep differences that divide us, differences that reach to the core values upon which our political systems are based. But we said, even so, we can make progress; even so, we can find areas of agreement and cooperation.
But perhaps in this Christmas season, we should look at an even deeper and more enduring realism. It is a reality that precedes states and governments, that precedes and surpasses the temporary realities of ideology and politics. It is the reality that binds each of us as individual souls, the bond that united Soviets and Americans in exultation and thanksgiving on that day of peace, 42 years ago.
General Secretary Gorbachev, you've declared that in your own country there is a need for greater glasnost, or openness, and the world watches expectantly and with great hopes to see this promise fulfilled. For in talking of openness and promising truth, you've called on the deepest hungers of the human heart, hungers shared by all, whether they be Soviet or American or the citizens of any nation on Earth.
Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation's great founders and philosophers, once said, ``The God who gave us life, gave us liberty as well.'' He meant that we're born to freedom and that the need for liberty is as basic as the need for food. And he, as the great revolutionary he was, also knew that lasting peace would only come when individual souls have the freedom they crave. What better time than in this Christmas and Hanukkah season, a season of spirit you recently spoke to, Mr. General Secretary, when you noted the millennium of Christianity in your land and spoke of the hopes of your people for a better life in a world of peace. These are hopes shared by the people of every nation, hopes for an end to war; hopes, especially in this season, for the right to worship according to the dictates of the conscience.
There's an old Russian saying: ``Every man is the blacksmith of his own happiness.'' And like all folk sayings, it contains a profound understanding of the human condition. We can, with our free will, shape our future. We can make it what that Soviet soldier saw in his vision of a better world, a vision of peace and freedom.
In memory of that day in Red Square when Soviet citizens carried American soldiers on their shoulders, in memory of that day when the Red Army embraced a new world of hope, I raise my glass. Mr. General Secretary and Mrs. Gorbachev, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, thank you. And Ambassador and Mrs. Dubinin, thank you for your hospitality this evening. And for my last attempt at Russian: Za vashe zdorovye [To your health].
Note: The President spoke at at the Soviet Embassy. Earlier, the President and the General Secretary met privately and then with U.S. and Soviet officials in the Oval Office at the White House to discuss regional issues and arms reductions.