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Excerpts of Remarks: Openness and ‘a Desire to Build Bridges’

From a Times Staff Writer

Excerpts from a joint news conference Sunday by Presidents Bush and Gorbachev at the White House :

BUSH: I think it’s a mark of how far the U.S.-Soviet relationship has come that in all our exchanges, whether about issues on which we agreed or disagreed, the spirit of candor and openness, a desire not just to understand but to build bridges, has shown through. . . .

President Gorbachev and I have agreed to meet on a regular basis, perhaps annually. Both of us would like to think that we can get together more often with less formality. Because, you see, we’re now at a stage in the U.S.-Soviet relationship and, indeed, in world history where we should miss no opportunity to complete the extraordinary tasks before us.

GORBACHEV: We spent many hours together and were able to come to know each other very well. I don’t know whether anyone will be ever able to say that we know each other totally well or completely. I think that would take many, many years. But now we have a good human relationship and, I think, a good human atmosphere between us. . . .

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I have invited President George Bush . . . to come for a state visit to our country. . . .

Relationship With Bush

Question from a Pravda reporter: I have this question to address to you, Mikhail Sergeyevich. You have just mentioned President Bush as having qualities of a statesman. Could you tell us what role they played in helping you make so many accomplishments at this summit meeting. . . . ?

GORBACHEV: Everything began with discovering the fact that President Bush and myself have a desire to do business informally, which is very, very important. If we added to this the fact that each of us, while being himself and while representing their own people, should react in a responsible fashion to everything . . . we could very well imagine the human compatibility which exists between people and which enables them to create a kind of atmosphere that makes it possible to clarify the root causes of some particular processes. . . .

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Jewish Emigration

Q: What guarantees can you give the Palestinians that decisions you made on emigration will not result in the further usurpation of their lands? And why is it that President Gorbachev has shown so much human sympathy for the Palestinians while the U.S. vetoes even a U.N. look at their plight under military siege?

BUSH: The United States policy on settlement in the Occupied Territories is unchanged and is clear, and that is, we oppose new settlements in territories beyond the 1967 lines. . . . Now, we do not oppose the (U.N.) Secretary General sending an emissary to the Middle East to look at this important question. The question is compounded, however, when you see on the eve of the discussion of that, an outrageous guerrilla attack on Israel launched from another country. . . .

Q: Well, Mr. President, do you agree that there have been settlements, even though this has been our policy for many years?

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BUSH: Yes, I agree there are settlements that go contrary to the United States policy, and I will continue to . . . try to persuade the government of Israel that it is counterproductive to go forward with additional settlements in these territories. . . .

GORBACHEV: . . . What kind of guarantees can we issue so that those who want to leave, those who have chosen Israel as their place of residence, those who leave from the Soviet Union, should not be resettled in occupied territories? This is not a simple question. . . . The Soviet Union is now being bombarded by a lot of criticism from Arab countries. . . . On the question of guarantees, we are facing the following situation. Either after these meetings and exchanges with the President of the United States of America on this particular issue, our concern will be heeded in Israel and they will make certain conclusions or else we must give further thought to it in terms of what we can do with issuing permits for exit. And some people are raising the matter in these terms in the Soviet Union, namely: As long as there are no assurances from the Israelis that this is not going to be done by them, (we should) postpone issuing permits for exit, to put it off. . . .

Comments on Yeltsin

Question from Izvestia reporter: Taking advantage of this opportunity, I’d like to ask you what do you think of your relationship with (Boris N.) Yeltsin (new head of the Russian republic)? Are you going to offer . . . an olive branch of peace to each other?

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GORBACHEV: I don’t think you have chosen the best place for clarifying our internal problems--but c’est la vie , as they say. . . . It took really three rounds for Comrade Yeltsin to gain a majority of votes, by just a few votes, to be elected. . . . Comrade Yeltsin, with respect to some very serious, important political, fundamental issues, has changed his position; at least he has introduced clarity. . . . If this is not a political game for him to hold high office, it is one thing. . . . But if this is nothing but a maneuver and he will return to what he has been doing in recent years . . . destructive activities . . . then of course his chairmanship will certainly complicate these processes. I should say that after that (election) he gave an interview, and people began to see that he is changing again. The very next day he was interrogated at a session. He tried to explain his position. . . . Everything will become clear pretty soon what Comrade Yeltsin is after.

Trade Agreement

Q: President Bush, I’d like to ask you about the trade agreement that you signed yesterday. . . . Secretary (of State James A.) Baker has indicated it will not go to Congress for its action until the Soviet codification of its new emigration policies. Does that mean, sir, that when that law is passed in the Soviet Union that you are prepared to go ahead as well with most-favored-nation trading status for the Soviet Union, or will that further step require . . . some shift on the Baltics?

BUSH: . . . I’m not going to send that legislation up (to Congress) . . . until the Soviet Union has completed action on the legislation guaranteeing the right of emigration. . . . Most-favored-nation is hooked into the emigration law being passed. That’s it. . . .

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Negotiating Power

Q: In connection with this meeting, there was a lot of speculation about weak and strong points. . . . How would you define what a strong position is?

GORBACHEV: I think to assume that someone, myself or President Bush, can dictate to each other, or to the Soviet Union, is absurd. . . . I think that this idea is suggested because at this point in time, the Soviet Union is deep into profound change. . . . We are changing our political system. We are introducing a new model in economy. . . . Debates are under way, doubts are being expressed, views are being compared, and this is very important. Because what is at stake is our destiny. Of course, when you look from outside--well, we ourselves can feel the strain of our society, it is very much politicized--but, a look from outside without knowing all the subtleties, without knowing all the depth of sentiments, one could certainly arrive at some erroneous conclusions. . . . But, the most important thing is that everything that is happening confirms not only the fact that we’re cleaning up our courtyard, we’re really revamping our entire society. . . . Of course, it’s up to us to solve all these problems, but of course everybody understands full well that this is something that . . . all the nations need, for without such changes, without a stronger, balanced, harmonized world, we will not accomplish our objectives. . . .

BUSH: May I simply add that the United States is not trying to deal from strength or weakness. . . . And so we’re not looking for winners or losers. We salute reforms that make our systems more compatible on the economic side, on the human rights side, the openness side. But we’re not . . . trying to achieve advantage. . . .

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Status of NATO

Q: Are there circumstances under which you would be prepared to recommend the total dissolution of NATO? What’s the threat that still keeps it in business?

BUSH: The threat is unpredictability and . . . instability. . . . We feel that a continued U.S. presence in Europe should not be seen as hostile to the Soviet interests, but indeed we hope a continued U.S. presence there will be seen as something that’s stabilizing. And NATO is the existing machinery that, we feel, with an expanded mission, can best provide that stability. . . .

GORBACHEV: We believe that the option which we think will be found eventually, and which will provide a powerful momentum and which would contribute to the strengthening of the European process, must necessarily include some kind of a transition period during which we could join our efforts to conclude a final document, exhausting thereby the rights we are endowed with as the victorious Four Powers under the results of the Second World War.

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A concurrent unification of Germany and its presence would mean the coincidence of these two events. This would mean that this would be an independent and sovereign state. I really don’t know and I wouldn’t like to engage in speculation about the timeliness. But I think that we must be very, very active now . . . so as to ensure some kind of synchronization between the internal processes which lead to the unification of Germany--and the settlement of external aspects--so that they would be combined.

Q: President Gorbachev . . . some of your aides say privately that a united Germany could belong to NATO and your security concerns could be satisfied by a limited American presence in Germany and by strict limits on German troops and armaments. The real problem, they say, is psychological, a matter of national pride. They say that if you accept Germany in NATO, it will be a humiliating admission for the Soviet people that you’ve lost the Cold War. . . .

GORBACHEV: While applauding the Germans’ desire to be united, we must, at the same time, think about ways of preserving the balance that has been emerging and taking shape for decades. And here is the central point: If we were to adopt only one point of view, then I would think that it would not be complete. For it gives rise to concerns. . . . What’s happening to our security? What should we be doing with our armed forces which we are both reforming and reducing? What should we do about Vienna; how should we behave there? All these are matters of strategic importance. . . . There is another pathway that we are offering. Let it be American or German or British. We are not claiming to have it as our own. We are claiming one thing only. We want to see an option that would strengthen everything in Europe, rather than weaken things. . . .

I’d say that the problem is not pride, really, if today I have to remind you once again that we lost 27 million people . . . during World War II. And 18 million people were wounded and maimed. Then I think it’s not a matter of pride but of justice, supreme justice, for these sacrifices of our people enable us to raise these matters with all nations, and we have a moral right to do so, so that everything that was obtained at such tremendous cost, that so many sacrifices would not spell new perils.

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BUSH: Our policy is not predicated on pride or on humiliation nor on arrogance. It is predicated on what do we see, from the U.S. standpoint, is the best for the future--best for stability and peace in Europe and elsewhere. . . .

Lithuania

Q: Mr. President, about six weeks ago, you suggested that your patience was nearing an end in regard to the Lithuanian situation. I was wondering if that’s still the case. If not, what has changed? And specifically, have you received any assurances that the embargo will be lifted?

BUSH: No, there have been no such assurances. I’m not sure anything has changed. . . . But we had some good discussions of this. I have been encouraged to see discussions going on over there between various leaders, and let’s hope the matter can be resolved because I haven’t . . . lessened my view as to peoples’ aspirations for self-determination.

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GORBACHEV: Our constitution has recorded the right for each people to make a choice for sole determination up to and including secession. . . . In the next few days, there is to be a federation council meeting convened to consider specific steps, dates, and ways of resolving this particular problem. . . . Perhaps this particular process will develop in a way that would imply the presence of different levels of federative ties. . . . We are prepared and willing to address any issue including those that have been raised by the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian (Republic) in the framework of the constitutional process. This implies a referendum. . . . Let the people decide. After they make a choice, I’m sure no fewer than five or seven years would be required for us to sort things out. There will be this divorce proceeding. . . .

I’m not asking the President to come over to us and bring order into our house, but I keep saying that President Bush would have resolved an issue like this within 24 hours, and he would have restored the validity of his constitution within 24 hours on any state. But we are going to resolve it. We are going to do it ourselves. . . .


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