31 December 1987, Washington DC & Moscow
The leaders of USA and USSR addressed the people in one another's resepctive countries in an innovative and Cold War thawing New Year's address.
MR REAGAN: Good evening. This is Ronald Reagan, President of the United States. I'm speaking to you, the peoples of the Soviet Union, on the occasion of the new year.
I know that in the Soviet Union, as it is all around the world, this is a season of hope and expectation, a time for family to gather, a time for prayer, a time to think about peace. That's true in America, too. At this time of year, Americans travel across the country -in their cars, by train or by airplane - to be together with their families. Many Americans, of course, came to the United States from other countries and, at this time of year, they look forward to hosting friends and family from their homelands.
Most of us celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. And as part of those celebrations we go to church or synagogue, then gather around the family dinner table. After giving thanks for our blessings, we share a traditional holiday meal of goose, turkey or roast beef, and exchange gifts. On New Year's eve we gather again and, like you, we raise our glasses in a toast to the year to come, to our hopes for ourselves, for our families and, yes, for our nation and the world.
This year, the future of the nation and the world is particularly on our minds. We are thinking of our nation because, in the year ahead, we Americans will choose our next President. Every adult citizen has a role to play in the making of this decision. We will listen to what the candidates say. We will debate their views and our own. And in November, we will vote. I'll still be President next January, but soon after that, the man or woman leading our country will be the one the American people pick this coming November. A Meeting in Moscow
As I said, we Americans will also be thinking about the future of the world this year - for the same reasons that you'll be thinking of it, too. In a few months General Secretary Gorbachev and I hope to meet once again, this time in Moscow. Last month in Washington, we signed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, in which we agreed to eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons. It was a history making step towards reducing the nuclear arms on both sides. But it was just a beginning.
Now in Geneva, Soviet and American representatives are discussing a 50-percent reduction in strategic nuclear weapons. Perhaps we can have a treaty ready to sign by our meeting in spring. The world prays that we will. We on the American side are determined to try.
You see, we have a vision of a world safe from the threat of nuclear war and, indeed, all war. Such a world will have far fewer missiles and other weapons. Today, both America and the Soviet Union have an opportunity to develop a defensive shield against ballistic missiles - a defensive shield that will threaten no one. For the sake of a safer peace, I am committed to pursuing the possibility that technology offers.
The General Secretary and I also anticipate continuing our talks about other issues of deep concern to our people - for example, the expansion of contact between our people and more information flowing across our borders.
Expanding contacts and information will require decisions about life at home that will have an impact on relations abroad. This is also true in the area of human rights. As you know, we Americans are concerned about human rights, including freedoms of speech, press, worship and travel. We will never forget that a wise man has said that, ''Violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone. It is necessarily interwoven with falsehood.'' Silence is a form of falsehood. We will always speak out on behalf of human dignity.
We Americans are also concerned, as I know you are, about senseless conflicts in a number of regions. In some instances, regimes backed by foreign military power are oppressing their own peoples, giving rise to popular resistance and the spread of fighting beyond their borders. Too many mothers, including Soviet mothers, have wept over the graves of their fallen sons. True peace means not only preventing a big war but ending smaller ones as well. This is why we support efforts to find just, negotiated solutions acceptable to the people who are suffering in regional wars.
There is no such thing as inevitablity in history. We can choose to make the world safer - and freer - if we have courage. But then courage is something neither of our people have ever lacked. We have been allies in a terrible war, a war in which the Soviet peoples gave the ages an enduring testament to courage. Let us concentrate this year to showing not courage for war but courage for peace. We owe this to mankind. We owe it to our children and their children and generations to come.
Happy new year. Thank you, and God bless you.
MR. GORBACHEV: Ladies and gentlemen, friends. As we celebrate the new year, I am glad to address the citizens of the United States of America and to convey to you season's greetings and best wishes from all Soviet people.
The first of January is a day when we take stock of the past year and try to look ahead into the coming year. The past year, 1987, ended with an event which can be regarded as a good omen. In Washington, President Reagan and I signed a treaty on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. That treaty marks the first step along the path of reducing nuclear arms, and that is its enduring value. But the treaty also has another merit. It has brought our two peoples closer together. We are entering the new year with a hope for continuing progress, progress toward a safer world.
We are ready to continue fruitfully the negotiations on reducing strategic arms with a view to signing a treaty to that effect even in the first half of this year. We would like without delay to address the problem of cutting back drastically conventional forces and arms in Europe. We are ready for interaction on resolving other problems including regional ones. Contacts Between People
I think it can be said that one of the features of the past year was the growing mutual interest our two peoples took in each other. Contacts between Soviet and American young people, war veterans, scientists, teachers, astronauts, businessmen and cultural leaders have expanded greatly. Like thousands of strands those contacts are beginning to weave into what I would call a tangible fabric of trust and growing mutual understanding. It is the duty of Soviet and American political leaders to keep in mind the sentiment of the people in their countries and to reflect their will in political decisions. The Soviet people are getting down to work in the new year with an awareness of their great responsibility for the present and for the future. There will be profound changes in our country along the lines of continued perestroika, democratization and radical economic reform. In the final analysis, all this will let us move on a broad avenue of accelerated development.
We know that you Americans have quite a few problems, too. In grappling with these problems, however, I feel that both you and we must remember what is truly crucial -human life is equally priceless whether in the Soviet Union, the United States or in any other country. So let us spare no effort to affirm peace on earth.
Ladies and gentlemen, during the official departure ceremony in Washington, I said with regret that on this visit I had little chance to see America. I feel, however, that I did understand what is important about the American people, and that is their enormous stock of good will. Let me assure you that Soviet people, too, have an equally great stock of good will. Putting it to good use is the most noble and responsible task of government and political leaders in our two countries. If they could only do that, what is but a dream today could come true - a lasting peace, an end to the arms race, wider ranging trade, cooperation in combating hunger, disease and environmental problems and progress in insuring human rights and resolving other humanitarian issues. May the coming year become an important milestone as we move down that road.
In concluding this new year address to the people of the United States of America, I wish peace, happiness and joy to every American family. A happy new year to all of you.