Radio Address to the
Nation on the Soviet-United States Summit Meeting in Moscow
May 28, 1988
this pretaped broadcast reaches you, I'm in Helsinki, Finland, on my way to the Soviet Union, where I arrive on
Sunday. When I meet in the coming days with Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev,
it will be our fourth set of face-to-face talks in 3 years. Through our
conversations, U.S.-Soviet relations have moved forward on the basis of
frankness and realism. This relationship has not rested on any single issue,
but has been built on a sturdy four-part agenda that includes human rights,
regional conflicts, arms reduction, and bilateral exchanges. What has been
achieved in this brief span of time offers great hope for a brighter future and
a safer world.
Western firmness and resolve, we concluded the historic INF treaty that
provides for the global elimination of an entire class of U.S. and Soviet
intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Soviet armed forces are now withdrawing
from Afghanistan, an historic event that
should lead finally to peace, self-determination, and healing for that
long-suffering people and to an independent and undivided Afghan nation.
is also encouraging to hear General Secretary
Gorbachev speak forthrightly about glasnost and perestroika -- openness and
restructuring in the Soviet Union -- words that to
Western ears have a particularly welcome sound. And since he began his
campaign, we can list developments that the free world heartily applauds. We've
seen many well-known prisoners of conscience released from harsh labor camps or
strict internal exile, courageous people like Josif
Begun and Andrei Sakharov. Soviet authorities have
permitted the publication of books like ``Dr. Zhivago''
and the distribution of movies such as ``Repentance'' that are critical of
aspects of the Soviet past and present. Greater emigration has been allowed.
Greater dissent is being tolerated. And recently, General Secretary Gorbachev
has promised to grant a measure of religious freedom to the peoples of the Soviet Union.
this is new and good, but at the same time, there's another list that the West
cannot ignore. While there are improvements, the basic structure of the system
has not changed in the Soviet Union or in Eastern Europe, and there remain
significant violations of human rights and freedoms. In Asia, Africa, and Central America, unpopular regimes use
Soviet arms to oppress their own people and commit aggression against
neighboring states. These regional conflicts extract a terrible toll of
suffering and threaten to draw the United States and the Soviet Union into direct
and related concerns will be at the top of my agenda in the days ahead. I shall
say, among other things, that the Soviet Union should fully honor the Helsinki accords. In view of
that document, signed in Helsinki in 1975, it is difficult to understand why
almost 13 years later cases of divided families and blocked marriages should
remain on the East-West agenda or why Soviet citizens who wish by right to
emigrate should not be able to do so. And there are other issues: the
recognition of those who wish to practice their religious beliefs and the
release of all prisoners of conscience.
working for a safer world and a brighter future for all people, we know arms
agreements alone will not make the world safer; we must also reduce the reasons
for having arms. As I said to General Secretary Gorbachev when we first met in
1985, we do not mistrust each other because we're armed; we're armed because we
mistrust each other. History has taught us that it is not weapons that cause
war but the nature and conduct of the Governments that wield the weapons. So,
when we encourage Soviet reforms, it is with the knowledge that democracy not
only guarantees human rights but also helps prevent war and, in truth, is a
form of arms control. So, really, our whole agenda has one purpose: to protect
peace, freedom, and life itself.
would like to see positive changes in the U.S.S.R. institutionalized so that
they'll become lasting features of Soviet society. And I would like to see more
Soviet young people come here to experience and learn from our society. And
that's why we're ready to work with the Soviets, to praise and criticize and
work for greater contact and for change because that is the path to lasting
peace, greater freedom, and a safer world.
grateful for your prayers and support as I embark on this journey. Until next
week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President's
address was recorded on May 23 in the Library at the White House for broadcast
on May 28.