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Svetlana Savranskaya
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Thomas Blanton
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Vladislav Zubok

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Document No. 114: Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and François Mitterrand, December 6, 1989

Traduction de Svetlana Savranskaya

Texte intégral

1Gorbachev finds the French president seemingly in complete agreement about Kohl, but not much help in doing anything specific to slow down the rush toward German unification. On the common European home idea, Mitterrand’s language is music to Gorbachev’s ears: “We should not change the order of the processes. First and foremost among them should be European integration, the evolution of Eastern Europe, and the all-European process.” But, he adds, “Kohl’s speech, his 10 points, has turned everything upside down.” Yet, Mitterrand falls back on his treaty commitments with the FRG that make it “more difficult for me than maybe for others to deny the Germans the right to make mistakes.” Gorbachev reports in detail on his conversation with Genscher (see previous document), but all the Frenchman can offer is moral support to Gorbachev for his “courage” in “reject[ing] established ideas inherited from the past. But you radiate calm, and you are even in a good mood.” There is a hint, however, of the factor that would ultimately tip the balance toward unification, when Mitterrand asks about the response to the idea in East Germany. Gorbachev deludes himself that “more than half of the population of the GDR would like to preserve the existing character of their country, with changes in its political structure, of course …” The March 1990 elections in the GDR would prove otherwise.

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2Gorbachev: I will tell you honestly—I am not satisfied with the results of this part of my conversation with Bush. Here is my conclusion. The Europeans should do the pioneer work in terms of making sense of the new world—of course with U.S. participation. But nonetheless, nothing will work without Europe. […]

3Gorbachev: I have a feeling that the U.S. is not completely open about their position, that they are not presenting it fully.

4Mitterrand: That is true […] The Americans are not telling the complete truth, including on the German issue. Nevertheless, I do not think that they are ready to take the position of changing European borders. […]

5I am speaking with you absolutely freely. We have special relations with the FRG. In 1963 De Gaulle and Adenauer signed an alliance treaty, and I am abiding by that treaty. That is why it is more difficult for me than maybe for others to deny the Germans the right to make mistakes. But I am being true to my duty—to preserve the balance in Europe.

6We should not change the order of the processes. First and foremost among them should be European integration, the evolution of Eastern Europe, and the all-European process, the creation of a peaceful order in Europe. If the United States participates in these processes, it would give all of us additional guarantees.

7Kohl’s speech, his 10 points, has turned everything upside down. He mixed all the factors together, he is rushing. I told Genscher about it, and he did not oppose my conclusions very much.

8Gorbachev: That is interesting! But I will speak about that later. […]

9Mitterrand: What exactly are you going to do next?

10Gorbachev: First of all, we are going to continue the line of peaceful change. Let every country determine its direction on its own. We are convinced that there should be no external interference; the will of the people should not be misrepresented.

11[…] You are right in saying that we should not only observe, but act. We need to trust every country, and to expand cooperation. […]

12Gorbachev: […] We had a major conversation with Genscher. And it could not have been otherwise—for us, the German issue is a painful one. Our society reacted sharply to the chancellor’s actions. And I told him directly—if you want to blow up, to destroy everything that we have achieved, then continue to act as you are. But then all the responsibility lies with you. Do not forget that even mid-level politicians should calculate their actions two or three steps ahead.

13The chancellor spoke about a confederation of the GDR and the FRG. By the way, he said in Brussels that Bush supported the idea. I asked Genscher what a confederation means. Doesn’t it mean a single foreign and defense policy? That is what is written in all the textbooks. But how can two German states work out this single policy? I asked what this new confederation would be a part of—NATO or the Warsaw Treaty? Or will it be neutral?

14Then what will be left of NATO, I asked. Did you think about everything? Then I asked Genscher whether he knew about Kohl’s 10 points before they were made public. Genscher admitted that he heard them for the first time in the Bundestag. Then I asked him whether he was going to behave that way in the future?

15Mitterrand: You know, we, like Genscher, were not informed about Kohl’s proposals beforehand.

16Gorbachev: I asked: could you talk to him? What are all our agreements on consultations worth? Do you know what your behavior is called? Provincial politics. You are acting so crudely on such a universally sensitive issue.

17Genscher was very confused. He assured me of his loyalty to the all-European process, reminded me of everything that he had personally done for its success. I told him that we knew him and valued him. But two questions still remain: why he assumed the role of Kohl’s attorney, and whether he, Genscher, was prepared to reject everything that has been achieved in recent years with his help.

18I said: it is your business to decide how you will act. It is within your authority. And it is within our authority to draw conclusions. I asked him to pass all this on to the chancellor.

19Genscher tried to persuade me for a long time that we misunderstood Kohl’s 10 points. And then he asked: how are we going to present our conversation to the press? I told him, let us say that we had an open and serious conversation. So far, we do not want to cast doubt over everything that we have done these past years. And I stressed “so far.” But we will monitor future developments very carefully, because the FRG’s behavior resembles that of an elephant in a china shop. […]

20Mitterrand: Is there any serious response to the idea of unification among the people of the GDR?

21Gorbachev: Yes, there is a response. But you know, more than half of the population of the GDR would like to preserve the existing character of their country, with changes in its political structure, of course, with democratization, etc. They see relations between the GDR and the FRG as relations between two sovereign states. [GDR leader Hans] Modrow is speaking about a new agreement-based community.

22Mitterrand: I will visit the GDR regardless of the developments. But I will stress that it would be a state visit.

23Gorbachev: I think that would emphasize the natural character of the processes unfolding in the GDR. […]

24Mitterrand: You are working under a lot of stress. You are loyal to your heritage, and at the same time, you continue to deepen your revolution.

25Gorbachev: We are trying to do what is necessary for our country, for the entire world, and for the socialist idea, to which we both are devoted. In this respect, our contribution should also be decisive.

26Mitterrand: I appreciate your courage in the struggle for the goals that you have set. One has to be brave to reject established ideas inherited from the past. But you radiate calm, and you are even in a good mood. This gives us hope.

27Gorbachev: I have made my choice.

28[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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