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Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 39: Report from Mikhail Gorbachev to the CC CPSU Politburo regarding His Meeting with the Trilateral Commission January 21, 1989

Traduction de Svetlana Savranskaya

Texte intégral

1The Trilateral Commission was a powerhouse of statesmen and financiers from the United States, Western Europe and Japan. In his report to the Politburo about his recent meeting with the Commission, Gorbachev takes special note of a comment by former French Prime Minister Giscard d’Estaing, who postulated that “in 10-20 years we all will have to deal with a federation of states named Europe”—a sentiment exactly in sync with Gorbachev’s own vision of the common European home. Referring to Kissinger’s conversations with Yakovlev earlier in the month, Gorbachev also mentions that the former secretary of state “hinted at the idea of a USSR-USA condominium” so that the “Europeans do not misbehave.”

2Gorbachev’s references to Kissinger use the word “Kisa”—a diminutive term for “cat,” replete with connotations of slinking around, and also the name of the pretentious aristocrat in a classic 1960s Soviet movie based on a famous satirical novel by Ilf and Petrov published in the 1930s. On January 16, Kissinger had suggested to Yakovlev that the situation in Eastern Europe was comparable to that preceding World War I when the Great Powers set off a chain reaction which led to war. To avert catastrophe, Kissinger proposed high-level negotiations to reach a set of understandings, both formal and informal. Gorbachev’s words to the Politburo suggest some attraction to the idea, but his assistants would later claim he was uninterested and even hurt by the Americans’ apparent inability to take his “new thinking” seriously. In any case, for the first time, Gorbachev would initiate an actual process to analyze the developments in Eastern Europe seriously. In the following weeks, Yakovlev would receive a number of analytical documents from the CC International Department, the KGB, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Institute of the Economy of the World Socialist System (see Document Nos. 41 & 42).


3Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Central Committee

4Gorbachev is speaking about the Trilateral Commission, with which he met (Kissinger, Giscard d’Estaing, Nakasone). It is interested in everything that is going on, especially in our country. It is working on all issues of European world policy. I would emphasize two issues.

5The first is how you—meaning we, the Soviet Union—are going to integrate into the world economy. These issues are being considered within the Trilateral Commission. If you are going to integrate we should be ready for it, they said to me.

6Giscard told me directly that for us (the USSR) this problem would be extremely difficult, but for them also.

7Second issue. They are coming to the conclusion that the biggest battles for perestroika are still ahead of us. And in the international sphere the main problems for us will emerge in the Third World. They think that the West “let the Third World live,” and the Third World, in turn, “let the West live.” But how are we going to deal with the Third World? They believe that in 10-20 years we all will have to deal with a federation of states named Europe.

8Kisa [Kissinger] just shrugged at this statement by Giscard, and asked me a direct question: How are you going to react if Eastern Europe wants to join the EC? It is not an accident that they asked me about this. They know that our friends are already knocking on the door. And we should also look at what processes are going on there now—economic and political—and where they are drifting.

9What is going on in Hungary, for example? An opposition party led by [Miklós] Németh has emerged there. Hungary is on the eve of a serious choice. Of course, it will be different. And I think that every country should have, and has, its own face. And we will continue to be friends, because the socialist foundation will be preserved in all of them.

10The paths of our development will be very diverse while we will preserve our commonality. We need a mechanism that will ensure our mutual understanding and interaction. There will be a lot of political, economic, and military-political questions. We should consider them in the Central Committee’s Commission on Eastern Europe. We should undertake situational analysis with scholars. For example, how would we react if Hungary were to leave for the EC? Comrades, we are on the eve of very serious things, because we cannot give them more than we are giving them now. And they need new technologies. If we do not deal with that, there will be a split and they will run away.

11And then there is the question of what we should present to the working groups of the leaders of the socialist countries. By the way, let the Commission give us a substantiated answer as to whether we need this meeting at all. Before that, we should work out what we can give to our friends, and compare it with what the West can give them.

12The answer to this question, I am sure, lies with our perestroika, with its success. We should try to involve our friends, to get them interested in our economic reforms. Let Yakovlev, with scholars, look at it. We are facing a serious problem there.

13The peoples of those countries will ask: what about the CPSU, what kind of leash will it use to hold our countries back? They simply do not know that if they pull this leash harder, it will break.

14It is time to transfer our relations to the forms that we utilize in our relationship with China. But we can get to such forms only via the market, and, of course, via technological and scientific developments in our own country.

15In that case, we would break the old rule that we keep them attached to us only by means of energy resources.

16At the same time, we cannot just tell them that we will cut deliveries. That would be a betrayal.

17Kisa hinted at the idea of a USSR-USA condominium over Europe. He was hinting that Japan, Germany, Spain and South Korea were on the rise, and so, let us make an agreement so that the “Europeans do not misbehave.”

18We should work on this range of issues also, but in such a way that it would not leak, because in Europe they are most afraid of what they understand the Reykjavik summit to mean. If you remember, in Reykjavik they saw an attempt at conspiracy between the USSR and the USA over Europe.

19My impression from the meeting with the Trilateral Commission is the following: they understood in the West that the world needs a peaceful breathing spell—from the arms race, from nuclear psychosis—as much as we need it. However, we need to know it all in detail in order not to make mistakes. They want to channel the processes in such a way as to limit as much as possible our influence on the world situation. They are trying once more to seize the initiative; they are putting forward criteria for establishing confidence, as a test: if the Soviet Union, they say, does not want to agree to something, we will take steps in order to score points.

20That is why we have to keep the initiative. This is our main advantage.

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

© Central European University Press, 2010

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