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The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all  faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance.

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1 October 2019

Mikhail Gorbachev's Letter to Participants in the Track Next Conference on arms control


Dear participants,

I regret that I cannot meet with you and speak to you directly but I would like to convey to you some thoughts about what worries me today.

You are meeting in Moscow at a time when the cause of nuclear arms control, arms reduction, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament is in grave jeopardy. The agreements underlying strategic stability are being destroyed, new kinds of weapons are being creating, and the arms race is extending to new spheres.

The reasons for this are political. The declaration of “victory in the Cold War” has led to the renewal of the cult of force in international affairs, replacing diplomatic and political methods of solving problems with military ones, and to the emergence and aggravation of conflicts and crises. The world is approaching a dangerous line beyond which is unpredictability and chaos.

I would like to recall that in the mid-1980s it was political decisions and political will that enabled us to begin the process of phasing out the nuclear arms race. The statement we made with President Ronald Reagan at the Geneva summit, that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, was the first step, followed by agreement in Reykjavik on the main parameters of the future treaties. And, despite the many obstacles and problems that came up all the time, those treaties were soon concluded and implemented. As of today, over 85 percent of the arsenals that existed at the height of the Cold War have been dismantled and eliminated. This is an example of how political will can help achieve what had seemed impossible.

Today, too, what is needed to return to dialogue and negotiations on security and disarmament is above all political decisions and political leadership. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. Russia’s proposals aimed at that have not met with an appropriate response from the U.S. leadership.

But, even in a situation like this, we must not give up. We must continue dialogue and prepare the ground for future negotiations on the entire agenda of security and strategic stability. Some time ago, in an article in The Wall Street Journal, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and I called upon Russian and American scholars and experts to engage more actively in order together to seek ideas that will help policy-makers, diplomats and the military to negotiate ways of solving the existing problems and preventing new threats. I am an optimist, and I believe that the political climate must change and such ideas will be needed.

I therefore welcome your conference and I hope that more contacts and meetings will follow. It is particularly important that participants include young experts who are less burdened with the baggage of the past. It is always more difficult to build than to destroy but I hope such difficulties will not discourage you.

I wish you success and mutual understanding.

Mikhail Gorbachev