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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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2 December 2019

Message by Mikhail Gorbachev to participants of the Commemorative Ceremony in Malta..


Mr. Prime Minister,

Citizens of Malta,

Distinguished Participants in the Commemorative Ceremony

I am grateful for the invitation to speak at your gathering. I regret not being able to attend personally, but I appreciate the opportunity to share with you my feelings and thoughts on this 30th anniversary of a momentous event – the Malta meeting of the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States.

First of all I want to thank Malta. Your island became the place where the final line was drawn under the Cold War. True, you couldn’t provide cloudless weather for the summit’s participants but that too turned out to be for the better.

The storm that broke out the day before the meeting made President Bush and I  change our plans. Instead of Navy ships, it was a purely civilian cruise liner, the Maxim Gorky, that became the venue of the summit. That was symbolic. It seemed that someone high above – perhaps God – was dictating a peaceful setting for this meeting.

We were conducting our negotiations at a moment when all over the world, and particularly in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, profound changes were happening at an ever more rapid pace, spurred by perestroika in the Soviet Union.
The time of rapid change is always a challenge for political leaders, for statesmen. It tests their vision, their self-control, and their sense of responsibility. At such times it is necessary to look each other in the eye. That was why we met with President George Bush.

We knew each other and had important meetings and discussions before. I was hoping that the president understood how much was at stake. And my expectations were fulfilled.

In our first conversation, George Bush said: “It is in our interest to see the reforms in the Soviet Union succeed. Public opinion in the United States supports you, strongly supports Perestroika”. Those were important words.

I responded by saying to the president: “Our two nations are simply bound to engage in dialogue and cooperation. But for that to happen, we need to stop seeing each other as an enemy. We are ready not to regard the United States as an enemy and to say so publicly”.
George Bush rose and held out his hand to me. Photographers were invited to the room in which the talks were held, and they recorded that moment: the two powers that for decades had held the world in a state of stress no longer regarded one another as foes.

For two days, we discussed the entire international agenda, all the issues of our relations: strategic weapons, bilateral economic cooperation, regional conflicts, and the global environmental crisis, which was apparent even then; all that, in the context of interaction and cooperation. We agreed that both sides would exercise restraint and act responsibly as regards the events in Central and Eastern Europe. We took an important step towards mutual trust and said so at the joint press conference of the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States.   

The Malta summit was a watershed, the beginning of new relations between our countries – relations that the following year, 1990, were put to a test of strength. And they withstood that test!

The spirit of Malta helped us to work in cooperation and avoid a crisis, when the process of unification of Germany and change in Eastern Europe gained even greater momentum and when Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait. For the first time in many years, the USSR and the United States did not act in the spirit of global confrontation, in the logic of Cold War. A prospect of partnership emerged. In cooperation with the entire global community of nations, we wanted to build a new world order, which would be, as Pope John Paul II famously said, more stable, more just, and more humane.

I regret to say that today we are still far from that goal. The world is facing the prospect of a new arms race, a new Cold War. World leaders have not been able to build a new, solid security architecture, with mechanisms for preventing and resolving conflicts. Militarization of politics and thinking is undermining trust in relations between states. We must not put up with this. We must act in order to revive the spirit of cooperation. I urge world leaders to engage in dialogue for the sake of the future, to cooperate in the spirit of Reykjavik and Malta.


Mikhail Gorbachev