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Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 27: Speech by Mikhail Gorbachev at a Dinner with Wojciech Jaruzelski, July 11, 1988

Traduction de Svetlana Savranskaya et Anna Melyakova

Texte intégral

1In remarks drafted by Georgy Shakhnazarov, Gorbachev toasts his hosts at a private state dinner in Warsaw, then goes beyond the usual thanks for hospitality to provide a detailed explanation of his concept of the common European home. First mentioned by Gorbachev in London in 1984, publicly announced in Prague in April 1987 (see Document No. 11) and most fully detailed in Strasbourg in July 1989, the idea of the common European home provides the foundation of Gorbachev’s strategy to end the Cold War. For many Westerners (often referred to in these documents as the “reactionary circles”) this rhetoric sounds too much like the traditional Soviet effort to split Europe from the United States under the guise of “peaceful coexistence”; and it would not be until the end of 1989 that Washington’s leadership, to take one prominent group, would comprehend that Gorbachev was truly pursuing something very new. Here, to an insider communist audience of Poles and Russians, the Soviet leader ties the idea directly to the Helsinki process, underway since 1975, and proposes (not for the first or the last time) that concrete steps are needed not only to transform the military blocs with the goal of liquidating them but also to build an economically-integrated Europe. Perhaps most important is Gorbachev’s endorsement of “socialist pluralism.” This concept would give Moscow’s advance blessing to events just two months away—the renewed Solidarity protests in August which would bring the Polish authorities back into a dialogue with the opposition in September and lead to the negotiated revolution of 1989.


2I will start by expressing my sincere gratitude for the heartfelt welcome. Everywhere we went today we were greeted by open, friendly people. Everywhere we saw something more than mere hospitality. Sincere interest in our country, sympathy, human kindness—that is what distinguished our meetings today. We see the great interest of the Polish public in the developments of Soviet perestroika as a factor of great political importance. […]

3My participation in the work of the Sejm left an unforgettable impression. The meeting with the elected representatives of the Polish people confirmed that the robust Soviet-Polish union is a mighty tree, which has deep roots, a wide crown, and many new strong branches. […]

4I think that the concept of socialist pluralism is also applicable to relations between the parties and countries of the socialist world. A respectful attitude to each other’s interests, and numerous, often diverging views and experiences—this is not only the basis of mutual understanding and healthy, genuinely friendly ties, it is also a source of acceleration for our movement forward. […]

5I will allow myself in this connection to talk about what content we invest in the concept of a common European home

6Both historically and politically this idea is a direct continuation of those ideas that were included in the All-European Conference in its time. The Helsinki process was a great achievement; its potential is far from exhausted, and unquestionably it should be continued. However, the course of European politics shows that a number of problems extend beyond the framework of this process. We have to go further, to rethink the entire situation in Europe from the standpoint of the new political thinking.

7A breakthrough is necessary first of all in European security. We can solve this problem in a big, radical way only if we follow a course toward a continuous process of disarmament—nuclear, chemical, and conventional. Lately some reassuring signs have appeared in this area. Now there are contacts not only between political figures and societies, but also between military figures. Naturally, the public feels safer when generals meet at negotiating tables rather than sitting in shelters.

8In this manner, a kind of “peaceful coexistence of military blocs” is forming. And if we succeed in continuing to move toward increasing levels of trust, we will be able, as athletes say, to raise the bar of politics in Europe by aiming at the liquidation of military blocs. If the resolution of this issue becomes a reality, then is there any point in postponing it till the 21st century?

9We also need a breakthrough in developing economic collaboration between the two sides of the continent. We have been speaking out in favor of this for a long time and we are glad that things have started to move [forward]. With time, the benefits of trade, exchanges of ideas, and cooperation will become more and more obvious for both sides. But politics, in order to be ahead of commerce, as it should be, must present an inspiring goal. That goal could be all-European economic integration. […]

10Now it would be important to move from this general idea to creating something that could be called a working draft; and then move step-by-step toward erecting the edifice of a new Europe.

11[Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation. Shakhnazarov Collection. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Svetlana Savranskaya and Anna Melyakova.]

© Central European University Press, 2010

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