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1991 - Mr Major’s Comments on the Soviet Situation

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the Soviet situation, made in an interview held in London on Monday 26th August 1991.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what he thought of Mr Gorbachev’s resignation from the communist party].

PRIME MINISTER:

It is clearly a very dramatic event. We have seen over the last few years that the communist party has been declining in Eastern Europe and increasingly unpopular in the Soviet Union so what we have seen in the last few crucial hours is the demise of the communist party as a serious force in the Soviet Union. Now that is no loss I believe, we are well off without it, it will go and it will go unmourned.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if that also meant the demise of Mr Gorbachev].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I do not think you can say that we have seen that, Mr Gorbachev is still the constitutional President of the Soviet Union. What we do not know is what arrangements are going to be made between the Soviet Union and the republics in terms of the union treaty, clearly it will be a different union treaty from the one that would otherwise have been signed a few days ago but what is will be will be determined in the next few days.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if Mr Gorbachev could retain power whilst not being head of the communist party].

PRIME MINISTER:

It is clearly going to be a different set of circumstances, that is absolutely right, but it is very striking is it not that the first thing that Yeltsin said was that Gorbachev was the legal President of the Soviet Union and that he ought to be freed. Now how that matter will develop in the next few days no-one yet knows and we must just wait and see.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if President Gorbachev could remain credible].

PRIME MINISTER:

He seemed to have maintained his credibility over recent years with some considerable skill and nobody should under-estimate what he has actually achieved in the last 6 or 7 years, it has been very remarkable, but events are changing and Mr Gorbachev has recognised that with his remarks about the communist party yesterday.