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Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 71: Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev, François Mitterrand and Their Spouses July 4, 1989

Traduction de Svetlana Savranskaya

Texte intégral

1During a sequence of discussions in Paris, the French leader effectively joins Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl as an informal member of Gorbachev’s primary international peer group, the support of which becomes a crucial source of his self-esteem and sense of security. In the conversations reproduced in this volume (see also Document Nos. 72 & 74), Gorbachev discusses his ostensible Warsaw Treaty Organization partners with a Western leader in terms far more frank than those usually employed in the Kremlin, or certainly with those “allies” directly. Both leaders’ commentary about President Bush is perhaps even more candid. Interestingly, Chernyaev’s notes show Raisa Gorbachev as an active participant in the conversations.


2Gorbachev: Thank you for your kind words. We also count on the success of our meeting. I recall my visit in 1985. So many things have transpired since then! You probably noticed how our statements have changed compared with 1985. In general, I feel as though I have lived four lives since 1985.

3[Raisa] Gorbachev: I think a person should always be who he is.

4Mitterrand: I cannot resist recalling the words of the poet [Walt] Whitman: “Become who you are!”

5Gorbachev: Let me ask you: what about perestroika, and an individual in perestroika, where people are trying to become better, more pure?

6Mitterrand: I am convinced that a person becomes better if he manages to remain himself. […]

7Mitterrand: The most difficult issue for you is inter-ethnic relations.

8Gorbachev: You are right, it is a difficult problem; but we will have the necessary approaches.

9Mitterrand: If I were in your place, I would probably still be unable to find the right solution.

10Gorbachev: You would be able to, because you simply would have to seek a solution for this problem. As far as we are concerned, we are on the verge of taking the right steps. That is why we do not have any grounds for pessimism.

11[Raisa] Gorbachev: In our country everybody understands the inevitability of change. But there are some who are scared, who are confused. And there are also those who push in the wrong direction.

12Gorbachev: But that is normal, as in any revolution.


13The conversation continued during the walk in the park of the Élysée Palace.

14Gorbachev: It would be inadmissible if, during the period of important formative shifts that are now underway in our country and in the other countries of Eastern Europe, someone tried to interfere crudely with this process under the pretext of all these emotions.

15Mitterrand: France understands this issue very well from the ideological and the political point of view. I count myself among those who sincerely wish success to perestroika in the USSR.

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

© Central European University Press, 2010

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