The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1994Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Speech in Moscow – 15 February 1994

Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech in Moscow on Tuesday 15th February 1994.


Mr President, Mrs Yeltsina. Since we dined at Greenwich 15 months ago, there have been momentous developments in Russia. The voice of your people has twice been heard in nationwide democratic votes. In April the Russian people endorsed your Presidency and your policies, and in December Russia’s new democratic and federative statehood was sealed by the first fully democratic parliamentary election and by the adoption of a new constitution.

Mr President, your conviction and your courage made it possible for the Russian people to exercise their fundamental democratic right, the right to decide what sort of state they wish to live in, the right to choose how they wish to be governed. In all this you have had our full support, you have led Russia to a place in the councils of the world’s advanced democracies.

Britain and Russia are partners in the United Nations Security Council, we work together on international problems, from the search for peace in the former Yugoslavia, to prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I hope we shall be partners for peace in Europe, partners with the European Union’s forthcoming agreement with Russia, partners in the Council of Europe and partners in the political work of the summit process.

Our partnership is not just words but deeds. Today for example we have agreed to detarget our nuclear weapons and to hold joint military exercises, these are practical signs of a new era. We are economic partners as well. Economic reform offers the prospect of taking that partnership much further. Britain is nothing if not a trading nation, trade is our life-blood, we have huge investments overseas, we would like to invest more in Russia and to trade more with Russia. Already our firms and our experts are cooperating closely. I shall see some of the results in Nizhniy Novgorod tomorrow where British and Russian experts have worked together on the privatisation of land and of transport. shall be announcing some new proposals there, not just for economic cooperation but to increase the range of contacts between our peoples. We are welcoming ever more Russians to Britain, over 60,000 last year, and I want to see more Britons coming here, not only as visitors, but to work here and to live here.

No-one doubts the difficulty and social hardships of modernising Russia’s vast economy, it will require the fortitude and the patience and the determination for which the Russian people have been famous down the ages, but it is the right path. This is the time to remind ourselves of what the Russian people have already achieved, of the new place which Russia enjoys in the world and of the goodwill, the friendship and the active support which will go with you in carrying through this historic transformation.

Mr President, Norma and I are privileged to be your guests here this evening, may I ask all our British guests to join me in proposing a toast to you, to Mrs Yeltsina and to the people of Russia.