The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1991Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Joint Statements with President Gorbachev – 18 July 1991

Below is Mr Major’s statement made on Thursday 18th July 1991 with the Russian President, President Gorbachev.


Good afternoon! We have had a series of discussions today. The President and I had the opportunity of around two hours discussion before luncheon, further discussion through luncheon and with a large number of people from business, commerce and industry attending luncheon as well and after luncheon, we have had the opportunity of a Plenary Session with our Finance and Economic Ministers, our Employment Ministers and our Foreign Ministers as well, so it has been a very productive and worthwhile series of exchanges.

In our discussions today, apart from a range of bilateral matters, we have also discussed how we carry forward the Group of 7 remit and discussed some of the ground rules for my forthcoming visit to Moscow some time this side of Christmas. We have also agreed, in order to carry this debate forward, that Norman Lamont, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will visit Moscow very speedily indeed. Dates are not yet finalised but I hope that the Chancellor will be able to go before the end of July to spend some time in the Soviet Union and to carry these discussions forward.

I should add also that a very senior mission from the Department of Employment will in fact be leaving for the Soviet Union this Sunday in order to examine small business and other business opportunities that exist between the two countries.

I also took the opportunity this morning in my discussions with President Gorbachev of announcing that we will be extending and increasing the Know-How Fund that exists to encourage small and growing enterprises in the Soviet Union. We will be increasing the time-scale of the Fund initially from two years to three years and doubling the size of the Fund to make a further small contribution towards assisting the establishment of a private sector and a liberal market economy in the Soviet Union.

Both the President and I saw these discussions as but the beginning of a continuing dialogue. We examined some very practical and very pragmatic ways forward and if I may speak for myself, I found them extremely useful discussions and I look forward to resuming them in Moscow later this year.

I will now invite the President to say whatever he would wish!


My task has been made easier by the fact that the Prime Minister covered the most important things.

I wish to add that we lost no time and at the beginning of our morning session we gave some thought to what we should do next so that there is practical continuation of the agreement that was reached yesterday at the G7 meeting.

The British-Soviet dialogue has a merit on its own and we are fully aware of the contribution that the British-Soviet dialogue that has been intensifying over the past few years made to the creation of the atmosphere that we witnessed these past few days and now I see that this dialogue will receive another no less important dimension given the fact that Mr. Major was instructed by the G7 to act in another capacity – not in another paid position but in another capacity. This is a new capacity which requires a lot of imagination and a lot of innovative approach to problems because what we are doing now is laying down bricks in the foundation of future cooperation.

We sensibly discussed all these matters with the Prime Minister and when we had the Plenary Session attended by our Ministers we were very pleased to note that our Ministers covered the same subjects so we have received a signal from the Seven and we started moving along and this is something that I welcome very much.

These past few days in the framework of the G7 meeting and also in the framework of the bilateral meeting we have seen a great desire on the part of the British side to provide a propitious atmosphere for our contacts and also to provide appropriate ground for our future joint work. I wish to thank the Prime Minister and his colleagues for a very active involvement in all that effort.


Mr. President, thank you very much. I am afraid the President and I are due in the House of Commons in just four minutes so I will take just two questions if I may.


[In Russian, not interpreted]


The answer to that question is that Soviet-British relations are very good and they are getting better.


I may add that the business communities of our two countries have many projects lined up and the scope of our cooperation is likely to grow and intensify very fast. What we need is removal of the remaining impediments in the way of that cooperation. Any restrictions of the COCEM (phon) type restrictions does not allow us to use new technology projects that are being offered and of course no-one would be content with some outdated old-type projects.


Why do you think Fidel Castro can continue to survive without implementing democratic reforms such as perestroika and glasnost and why does the USSR continue to aid Castro when he has openly criticised you and the countries from Eastern Europe for deviating from Communist teachings?


You know, I would do a lot of stupid things really if I were to sever relations with countries whose leaders criticised me and those stupid things that I would do would apply not only to international affairs but also to the domestic situation in my country so I would rather not do it.

My second point is that you must show respect for the Cuban people. I think the Cuban people deserve that and it is for the Cuban people to choose freely and to decide whatever questions they may face.