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Svetlana Savranskaya
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Thomas Blanton
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Vladislav Zubok

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Document No. 20: Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Lazar Moisov, March 14, 1988

Übersetzt von Anna Melyakova

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1This excerpt from Chernyaev’s notes of a Gorbachev meeting with Yugoslav Communist leader Lazar Moisov in Belgrade provides one of the clearest expressions of Gorbachev’s renunciation of intervention in Eastern Europe. Gorbachev says both the United States and the USSR have learned that neither “can impose its will on any country. They could pressure them, but not impose their will.” Of course, Yugoslavia had long maintained its independence of Soviet policy. On March 19, Pravda would publish a joint Soviet-Yugoslav declaration from the Belgrade trip that represented perhaps the most authoritative public disavowal of the Brezhnev Doctrine to date, referring to “the impermissibility of interference in internal affairs irrespective of the pretext.” However, in conversations with the more dependent Hungarians and Poles, Gorbachev as late as spring 1989 would maintain some ambiguity about just how far autonomous change could go without the Soviets taking some action.

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2No one can impose anything on anyone. We have common socialist ideals, a common heritage in the classics of Marxism, but each party develops this heritage through its own experience, its traditions, and the consideration of its international position. As for big and small states, I said in my talk with Reagan: today neither the USSR nor the U.S. can impose its will on any country. They could pressure them, but not impose their will. The world is different now, each state strives to determine its fate independently, and we must take that into account. Of course, the major powers carry more responsibility than the smaller countries. But they must not crush the rights of others.

3[Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Fond 2. Opis 1. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Anna Melyakova.]

© Central European University Press, 2010

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