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1991 - Mr Major’s Second Statement on Soviet Union

Below is the text of Mr Major's second statement, made in Downing Street, on Monday 19th August 1991 on the Soviet Union situation.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, any further developments you can tell us about?

PRIME MINISTER:

There isn't a great deal I can add to what I had to say earlier today. As today has progressed, I think it has become clearer that what we have actually seen in the Soviet Union is a straightforward common-or-garden old-fashioned coup; that is actually what has happened there.

I have had two conversations today with President Bush and a number of conversations with European leaders in both East and West Europe.

I think it is very important we coordinate our position, very important that we pool our information over the days and weeks ahead.

I had a particularly interesting conversation with the Prime Minister of Poland and I think tomorrow at the discussions at the European Community Foreign Ministers' meetings a number of matters will be raised. I think the question of speeding-up the European Community Cooperation Agreements with Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia will be raised - Douglas Hurd will raise that; he will also raise the question of freezing Community aid to the Soviet Union in precisely the same way that we have frozen our Know-How aid and I think also that we will be very likely to have a European Community Heads of Government meeting some time in the next few days but beyond that there are no fresh events to report.

QUESTION:

Have you had any indication at all about the nature of the new regime and are you any less gloomy about the prospects?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I have had no particularly fresh information about that. It is clearly, as I said earlier, a hard-line and reactionary coup but beyond that we have no details of what is going to happen. I think we are, like everyone else, waiting on events for the time being.

QUESTION:

What do you think will be the next most significant event?

PRIME MINISTER:

I can't tell you yet. Events may move very swiftly. It is impossible to say. I think we will have to wait and see.

QUESTION:

What do you make of the ambassador in this country's apparent assertion that there are going to be continued reforms and so on in the Soviet Union?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I hope that is true. We have supported reform in the Soviet Union for many years in the past; we hope we are going to see reform. The future prosperity of the Soviet Union depends upon there being reform. It is in their interest to have reform; it is in the West's interest to see reform; whether it happens, we must wait and see. The omens at the moment are not propitious.