Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the Soviet Union, made in an interview held on Tuesday 31st December 1991.
[Mr Major was asked if the situation in the former Soviet Union was potentially dangerous].
I think firstly one has to consider what Gorbachev has achieved and I think he deserves fair consideration. He has achieved I think two things: he has set the Soviet Union on the road to democracy but it is a difficult and it is a rocky road and it will take some time. And secondly what he has achieved is effectively the end of that form of socialism not just in the Soviet Union but around the whole world. Throughout the world you see it, in Latin America as well, countries that did declare themselves socialist are now looking at free markets and a different way of life. That is a very remarkable achievement.
Against that, the future for the former Soviet Union is not going to be easy, there are going to be very great problems and it is essential that the West enters into the most comprehensive dialogue with each and every one of the new republics.
[Mr Major was asked if Boris Yeltsin would be strong enough to bring about a stable new nation].
Only time will tell that, but he is a very considerable man. I think no-
[Mr Major was asked if Mr Yeltsin understood the economic tasks ahead].
I am not sure that anyone in the republics understands the depths of the economic
problems facing the Soviet Union. We have economic problems in the West as well,
but they are frankly as nothing to the economic problems that are being faced now
in the former Soviet Union and that will be there for a long time to come. No-
[Mr Major was asked about the financial contribution the West might need to make].
I think we should help the republics, I believe that is in our interests as well as I think being the humane sort of action that one would expect from the West. They do face very great difficulties. Over the past few months, largely because I have been Chairman of the Group of Seven, I have been intimately involved with the measures we have taken to put in place to help the republics in the future. There are many billion pounds worth of packages of assistance that are actually now available.
[Mr Major was asked about Mr Gorbachev comments of saying that more was needed].
Mr Gorbachev has said it is not enough but Mr Gorbachev also has acknowledged the
tremendous amount that has been done both publicly and privately, some of the private
letters he has written are letters I will treasure on that particular account. I
have also proposed in the last few days that Russia should become full members of
the IMF and the World Bank, I think that is a very important move forward. And I
think it is also fair to say that this country has led the way in the provision of
food aid and feed aid to animals in order to meet the short-
[Mr Major was asked whether nuclear weapons posed a danger].
I see no short-