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Svetlana Savranskaya
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Thomas Blanton
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Vladislav Zubok

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Document No. 37: Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Henry Kissinger, January 17, 1989

Traduction de Svetlana Savranskaya

Texte intégral

1This discussion between Gorbachev and Kissinger is not nearly the substantive back-and-forth that Kissinger experienced the previous day with Yakovlev (see Document No. 36). The meeting seems almost ceremonial rather than a negotiation, with the focus on the process of how to open a confidential channel rather than the pro’s and con’s of the superpower condominium idea. Kissinger remarks that former Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Dobrynin has the direct personal number of the new national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, and, not surprisingly, Kissinger makes clear that he would like to be in the loop as well. The American also plays up to the Soviets regarding the Jackson-Vanik legislation from the 1970s, which limited economic cooperation with the Soviet Union and placed human rights and emigration conditions on any American aid or credits. Kissinger comments that the law was “directed against me in the first place, and only then against the Soviet Union. I agree with you. I always thought it was wrong. I believed that your emigration policy was your country’s internal affair.”

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3Kissinger: In practical terms, as I understand it, you implied to George Bush in your conversation on Governors Island that you would like to establish a channel for a confidential exchange of ideas. He understands that on your end Anatoly Dobrynin would serve as the contact.

4Gorbachev: Yes, that’s correct.

5Kissinger: President Bush is very interested in this method of communication. We have not worked out a specific mechanism yet, but it is clear that Scowcroft will be an important figure on the president’s side in such a dialogue.

6We are ready to begin at any time convenient for you. At the end of February the President will visit Japan with a short stop in China. Maybe the beginning of March could be a convenient moment? It would be a good opportunity if Anatoly Dobrynin could be in the United States at the time, or maybe some other way.

7This confidential channel could be used without any harm to our dialogue through all other existing channels. It will give us an opportunity to open up for you somewhat the course of our internal discussions of certain problems, so that when we introduce a proposal, you would know what ideas and goals are behind it.

8George Bush would appreciate an opportunity to receive similar information from you. […]

9Gorbachev: Of course, the problem of coordinating our economies, the search for forms of cooperation, is a very real problem, and both sides should think about it. However, already today, the steps we have taken in our foreign economic policy—the creation of legal and economic bases, strengthening guarantees for our foreign partners—should be supported on your side by a repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. If you do not sweep it away with a broom, it would be difficult for us to enter your markets.

10Kissinger: The Jackson-Vanik Amendment was directed against me in the first place, and only then against the Soviet Union.

11I agree with you. I always thought it was wrong, I believed that your emigration policy was your country’s internal affair. One cannot make external demands about that. One could, probably, discuss it with you confidentially, but without pressing any demands.

12Gorbachev: Those problems are now substantially resolved.

13Kissinger: Yes.

14Gorbachev: We only fight against brain drain. As far as dissidents are concerned, let them all go to your country.

15Kissinger: I always believed that dissidents are very difficult to deal with even for those countries that receive them. […]

16Gorbachev: We are waiting for a signal from the administration.

17Kissinger: You will hear positive statements from the president from the very beginning of his term. The exchange of opinions we agreed to conduct could begin in the first days of March, if it is convenient for you. Our people are ready.

18I already told Anatoly Dobrynin that I considered the first part of your U.N. speech exceptionally important. We should discuss how to implement those propositions in solving concrete problems. If we could do that, we would be able to harmonize our policy and to improve our bilateral cooperation.

19As far as the mechanism of such communication, Anatoly Dobrynin already has Scowcroft’s direct personal number and, on my part, I could help to establish the initial contact, so that it doesn’t have to go through the apparatus.

20Gorbachev: I would also like you to tell President Bush that I appreciate his letter, and the fact that he sent it at such an early stage, even before his inauguration. We attach special importance to contacts and to the confidential exchange of opinions.

21Please give my regards to President Bush, and tell him that he can count not only on understanding but also on cooperation on my part. I think that in the context of this conversation, which I would also ask you to pass on to him, it will be clear to him what meaning I am putting in these words. […]

22[Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Fond 2. Opis 1. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Svetlana Savranskaya.]

© Central European University Press, 2010

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