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Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 76: Information Note regarding George H.W. Bush’s Visit to Poland (July 9-11), July 18, 1989.

Traduction de Gregory F. Dombe

Texte intégral

1In this summary of Bush’s conversation with Jaruzelski, prepared by the Polish Foreign Ministry, one sees Bush’s caution and sensitivity about undermining Gorbachev’s policy or destabilizing Eastern Europe in any way. He mentions several times his respect for Gorbachev and his resolve not to interfere in the processes in Poland. Jaruzelski makes it very clear to Bush that Western economic assistance is needed if the Polish reform is to succeed and that its success or failure would have wide implications throughout Eastern Europe. When discussing the idea of the common European home, Jaruzelski expresses a preference for a little more privacy—“that it should be a house with free corridors between respective rooms.” Bush, however, seems to agree with Gorbachev’s more radical vision—“a united Europe, without foreign troops (including American troops).” He sees this as “a vision of the future, but he is not waiting for a unilateral withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland.” Bush also asks Jaruzelski to make it clear to Gorbachev that his recent remarks were not a call for a Soviet pullout, which was a concern for the Soviet leader.



3Pres. Bush expressed great satisfaction with the fresh possibility of visiting Poland. He is impressed by the changes, which the world is watching with bated breath and admiration. He underscored that he did not come to Poland to complicate the very difficult work Gen. Jaruzelski has to perform. He does not want to engage in “super rhetoric” that could be received well in the West but would hinder actions by the Polish authorities.

4It is not his goal to make Gorbachev’s life more difficult and to trigger internal tensions in the socialist camp. He came to pay tribute to the reforms and changes and to encourage their intensification and expansion, to speak about how the United States could contribute to Poland’s economic renewal, but not to interfere in any way in our internal affairs. That is the general goal of President Bush’s visit to Poland, and [he was] pleased to hear the comments by his host, who is in a position to realize that goal.

5Also, he does not intend for the present visit to create a peculiar contest about who is more popular: Gorbachev in the West, in the FRG and France, or Bush in the East, in Poland and Hungary.

6He is prepared to discuss every aspect of Polish-American relations. He also wants to emphasize that because of the course Gen. Jaruzelski has declared and taken, his personal standing and popularity have never been as high in the United States as they are at present.

7Thanking [Bush] for expressing such relevant intentions for his visit, Gen. W. Jaruzelski stressed that we are all aware of the superpower leaders’ tremendous responsibilities with regard to global problems, but also in reference to our country. He added that during his visit to France and the FRG M. Gorbachev did not do and did not say anything that could damage U.S. interests. It is invigorating that people of such high prestige approach politics in such a responsible manner, in a spirit of mutual trust and respect for a partner’s interests. Only in this way is it possible to move forward. […]

8Reporting specifically on the results of the meeting of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact nations in Bucharest, Gen. W. Jaruzelski underlined that it was another step on the path toward progress in arms reductions and international cooperation, and toward achieving stability and security in Europe. The main emphasis in Bucharest was on political cooperation, and not military confrontation. The internal problems of the allies were also discussed, on which there is greater pluralism than in NATO. The PRL, Hungary and the USSR find themselves at the forefront of change and reform. But another viewpoint also exists. Some allies are concerned that the situation will slip out of control, that it will explode. Thus, the Polish situation might represent an incentive [for reform], or discourage [others] from reform if there are only empty shelves in Poland. Therefore if the West is interested in success for our reforms, they should see them not only in the Polish context but also in terms of spreading conditions. In Bucharest we spoke in favor of arms control, detente, the development of East-West relations, and a common European home. At the same time, if you are dealing with Poland we support the American concept, that it should be a house with free corridors between the respective rooms.

9Pres. Bush asked if in Bucharest all of the allies were interested in the development of Poland’s situation or [if] they expressed anxieties that [the Poles] were moving too rapidly toward reform. In response, Gen. W. Jaruzelski stated that one must understand their anxieties. Some see the achievements of the Korean People’s Republic or Romania. It turns out that [those] results were generated by a dictatorship or a strong hand or money. We do not have either the first or the second. Bush added that Poland has the respect of the entire world and has never been in the same league [as the others], whereas who knows or talks about the achievements of the PDRK or Romania. […]

10In the conversation, Pres. Bush repeatedly returned to the topic of the Soviets. Several times he underscored that he did not regard his visit as a test for meddling in Poland or internal bloc matters. Similarly, one should not think that it is his intention to break up the socialist bloc and to hinder M. Gorbachev’s life.

11He stressed, nevertheless, that in the preceding administration he was the vice president and that after winning the election he insisted on completing a thorough inter-departmental review of American policy regarding the USSR and the socialist bloc. Its outcomes were apparent in Bush’s speeches in Hamtramck and in Texas.

12As a result of this review it was decided to unambiguously support Gorbachev and his perestroika policy.

13Bush personally values the candid dialogue with Gen. Jaruzelski and would be pleased if a similar one existed with Gorbachev.

14After Gen. Jaruzelski encouraged frequent contacts between leaders of both powers, Bush responded that they are thinking about that in Washington. Secretary of State Baker already maintains contacts with Min. Shevardnadze. The Soviets related that J. Baker is not only a talented secretary of state, but Bush’s best long-term friend. Contacts with him are nearly tantamount to contacts with the president of the United States. [Bush] worries, he added, that [his] meeting with Gorbachev could create too great an expectation, particularly regarding arms reduction agreements which are still not ready. They noted many signs of good relations. The Soviets did not reject the American arms reduction proposals, a Soviet ship helped clean up the oil in the sea near Alaska, and Americans sent burn experts to treat victims of a train collision in Siberia, with serious cases being treated in San Antonio. The head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff returned not long ago from unusually successful meetings in the Soviet Union. There were no antagonisms or hidden motives that could avert or keep the U.S. far away from the USSR.

15Bush expressed satisfaction with the USSR’s positive reaction regarding the quick attainment of success in conventional arms reductions, so that the deadlines set for reductions could be met.

16Finally Bush requested that Gen. Jaruzelski clarify to Gorbachev that he did not comment on withdrawing the Soviet army from Poland. He added that his comment was poorly interpreted. A united Europe, without foreign troops (including American troops) is a vision of the future, but he is not waiting for a unilateral withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland. It would be good if Gen. Jaruzelski would be willing to inform Mr. Gorbachev of that and to clear the atmosphere in relations for both leaders.

17[Source: Archive of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2/94, W-8, Dep III (1989), AP 220-15-89. Located and translated by Gregory F. Domber.]

© Central European University Press, 2010

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