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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7899

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER PARLIAMENTARY DINNER FOR PRIME MINISTER RYZHKOV CANBERRA - 14 FEBRUARY 1990

Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/02/1990

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 7899

CHEC AGANSTDUENLTIIELR YDEEMLBIATRVGEORYED
SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER
PARLIAMENTARY DINNER FOR PRIME MINISTER RYZHKOV
CANBERRA 14 FEBRUARY 1990
Prime Minister Ryzhkov and Madam Ryzhkova
Parliamentary Colleagues
Ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of the Government and the people of Australia, let
me say, Mr Prime Minister, how pleased and honoured we feel
that, at this historic time in the affairs of your own
nation and of the world, you have journeyed to Australia for
this visit.
The relationship between our two countries has matured in a
dramatic way in recent years, and in a way that can only be
to the lasting benefit of the people of Australia and of the
Soviet Union.
Your visit will strengthen that relationship even further,
Mr Prime Minister. Let me assure you that you and Madam
Ryzhkova are most welcome guests to Canberra and to
Australia. I trust the warmth of our welcome to you, and our
constructive and frank dialogue with you, have shown how
well Australians understand the magnitude of the changes you
are working in the Soviet Union, and how positively we are
responding to them.
The Australian Government stands ready to expand and
diversify our bilateral relationship; the Australian
corporate sector is eager to build commercial links; and the
Australian people are keen to build the foundations of
friendship. I recall with pleasure the stimulating discussions I held in
1987 in Canberra with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, and
later in Moscow with Mikhail Gorbachev, you, and your
colleagues talks which built a genuine and personal trust
and confidence between us.
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In those talks in Moscow, we reviewed your programs of
perestroika and glasnost, and we discussed the welcome
progress that had been made in arms control, the reduction
of regional tensions, the opening up of economic
opportunities, and the steady improvement in Soviet human
rights. It seemed then, in 1987, that your nation had already
achieved very significant changes, in both its domestic and
international policies.
How modest that conclusion seems now, as we meet again just
two years later!
Both within the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe the pace
of reform has been, simply, breathtaking. You have not only
reshaped the face of your own region, but fundamentally
transformed the very landscape of the world order that has
been familiar since the end of the Second World War.
We have seen the wall between the Federal Republic of
Germany and the German Democratic Republic, for so long a
symbol of the division of Europe, come down. We have seen
the democratic aspirations of Eastern Europe met and, with
the tragic exception of Romania, we have seen them met
peacefully. We have seen Communist Parties in the GDR,
Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia agree to compete in
multi-party elections for newly resurgent Parliaments.
And we have seen the Soviet leadership respond to these
watershed changes with wisdom and propriety.
We recently announced a range of diplomatic, financial and
other measures designed to assist the countries of Eastern
Europe develop their new democratic systems a practical
response by our heads and hands that matches the sense of
joy we feel in our hearts at this enlargement of political
and economic freedoms in nations where they had been denied
for so long.
Within the Soviet Union itself, we have seen only last week
the historic decision to clear the way for competitive and
open elections and, by extension, for a more competitive and
open society.
I shall never forget, on my last day in Moscow, hearing the
news that a number of refusenik cases that I had raised with
the Soviet Government had been sympathetically and promptly
resolved. It is a matter of very great personal
satisfaction that the Soviet Union's positive response to
human rights issues has been carried through and that, in
particular, our two countries have established such a close
and constructive dialogue on this issue.
The Human Contacts agreement that we will sign tomorrow will
bring to a successful conclusion our negotiations that
commenced at a time when there had been little discussion of
such matters between the Soviet Union and the West.

Mr Prime Minister, at the dinner that you hosted for me in
Moscow, I observed that over the last 40 years the world had
slowly and steadily built for itself a nuclear scaffold.
I said that if for any reason humanity should ever have to
stand on that scaffold and look its executioner in the face,
we would see ourselves.
The task before us was to dismantle that scaffold and to
do so without destroying our own security in the process.
It is, Mr Prime Minister, with the profoundest sense of
admiration and respect that we congratulate your Government
for working with the United States to undertake that
critical task.
We do today live in a safer and a more secure world. The
scaffold is far from dismantled, to be sure, but we now have
greater confidence it will not be used.
So in all these ways the landscape of the world order has
indeed been transformed.
Mr Prime Minister, there is, nor should be, no sense of
condescension in our welcome to the changes in the Soviet
Union and Eastern Europe. In no country in history has the
evolution to democratic institutions and practices been
without trauma. As you know we have, in consultation with
you, been steadfast and constant in stressing these values
and the need for their embrace if the legitimate aspirations
of people are to be satisfied. That these processes are so
committedly under way is for us a matter of undiluted joy
and our commitment to be involved with you in these
processes is total.
I want to say to you quite clearly tonight that the
Australian Government welcomes and supports the economic and
political changes within the Soviet Union that have been so
important to this transformation.
We admire the courage and vision that the leadership of the
Soviet Union has displayed in implementing these reforms.
And we want you, and your nation, to succeed in your
endeavours to maintain the pace and direction of these
reforms.
Where you succeed in creating a more open and peaceful
society, and in integrating your economy with the world, we
stand to gain as well.
Where you lower tensions at the superpower level, and where
you pursue a constructive Soviet foreign policy, we stand to
enjoy a more stable environment in the world and in our own
region.

The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan; your creative and
positive contribution to the resolution of the longstanding
Namibian problems; the role you are playing in Cambodia,
including your support for Australia's proposal for United
Nations involvement in a settlement of the tragic conflict
there; reductions in your force levels along the Sino-Soviet
border and in Cam Ranh Bay all these are very welcome
developments. The emergence of a more favourable and stable global
environment has now exerted a positive influence even on the
South African regime, as is evident with the release, at
last, of Nelson Mandela.
In the same way, where you succeed in making progress in
arms control and disarmament, we stand to make progress
towards other goals we regard as important, such as the
elimination of chemical weapons. We were grateful for your
support for the Government Industry Conference Against
Chemical Weapons that was held in Canberra last year.
And very importantly, where you succeed in opening the
Soviet economy and making it more efficient, we stand to
gain mutual benefit from the outcome.
We are keen to explore whatever avenues exist now or in the
future for the peaceful development of commercial links
between us.
Today we discussed a number of areas where Australia, with
our strong agricultural and resource base and effective
transport and communications infrastructure, can offer you
the benefit of our experience and expertise.
One particular area, which I have raised with
President Gorbachev as well, is our expertise in the
handling, storage and long-distance transport of food an
area where improvements would bring direct benefits to
Soviet agricultural producers and consumers.
I am delighted too that we will sign tomorrow fisheries and
commodities agreements business-like agreements that
represent a very significant broadening of our commercial
relationship, for our long term mutual benefit.
Many other opportunities exist for economic and trading
links between our two countries, particularly through joint
ventures. In Melbourne yesterday you were briefed on one of
these the very promising aluminium proposal involving
Comalco and the Soviet Ministry of Metallurgy.
Australia can also help realise President Gorbachev's vision
for the accelerated development of the Soviet Far East. In
July, a number of Australian companies will be mounting a
major trade exhibition in Vladivostock, to show that
Australian goods and services have much to contribute there.

Mr Prime Minister, our conclusion of agreements on
environmental protection and nuclear safeguards will open
the prospect of further constructive cooperation between us.
I very much welcomed President Gorbachev's recent speech at
the Global Forum on Environment and Development For
Survival, especially his positive references to the
Antarctic. Australia has been strongly advocating the banning of mining
in Antarctica and the preservation of this magnificent and
wild continent as a natural reserve and land of science.
I welcome what you said today about our shared concerns for
the protection of this environment.
Mr Prime Minister,
On my way to visit Leningrad and Moscow in 1987, I made a
stop-over in Singapore, where I had been invited to deliver
the annual Singapore Lecture. I spoke on that occasion
about the developments underway in this most dynamic of
regions, the Asia-Pacific region, including the new
diplomacy being practiced in the region by the Soviet Union.
I said that Australia would welcome a constructive
involvement by the USSR in political and economic
developments in the region.
Let me tell you that on my return home, that expression was
criticised by some who saw it as an excessively generous
interpretation of Soviet intentions.
Of course today my assessment has been not only vindicated
by events, but almost overtaken by them.
It has shown again that the vigour and creativity of Soviet
policy making has stretched, and then frequently exceeded,
the expectations even of those of us in the West who
perceived early the magnitude of your reform ambitions
while thoroughly exploding the preconceptions of those who
insisted on judging you according to the yardstick of the
1950s, 60s or
Not too many years ago, a visit to Australia by a Soviet
Prime Minister would have been an unlikely event. It
certainly would not have been conducted with the
constructive spirit, the frankness and the warmth that has
characterised your visit.
As we proceed through the 1990s, Australia and the Soviet
Union will have much to gain from contacts such as this; we
will have many avenues for consultation and cooperation to
explore. I hope you will take back to President Gorbachev a message
of hope from the Australian people a message of our great
admiration and respect for what he, you and your colleagues
have achieved and are endeavouring to achieve.

6.
And I trust you, Mr Prime Minister, will be fortified by
that message and by what we have shown you during this visit
just as we are immensely encouraged by the prospects for
the future that you represent.
For this is indeed a time of historic opportunity, in which
leaders of historic vision are truly making the world a
better place.
That is why, fundamentally, we support you and why we want
you to succeed.

Transcript 7899