The Soviet System: From Crisis to Collapse

By Alexander Dallin; Gail W. Lapidus | Go to book overview

46 Speech to the Congress
of People's Deputies,
December 20, 1990

EDVARD SHEVARDNADZE

Comrades deputies! I have perhaps the shortest and the most difficult speech of my life....

Yesterday there were speeches by some comrades—they are our veterans— who raised the question of the need for a declaration to be adopted forbidding the President and the country's leadership from sending troops to the Persian Gulf. That was the approximate content, and this was not the first or the second occasion....

We have no moral right to reconcile ourselves to aggression and the annexation of a small, defenseless country. In that case we would have had to cross out everything that has been done in recent years by all of us, by the whole country and by all of our people in regard to asserting the principles of the New Political Thinking. That is the first thing.

Second, ... nobody is going to send a single military man or even a single representative of the Soviet armed forces there. This has been said. But somebody needed to raise this issue, this problem again. And I know what is happening in the corridors of the Congress.

Third. I have said and confirm it and state it publicly, that if the interests of Soviet people are encroached upon, if just one person suffers—wherever it may happen, in any country, not just in Iraq—yes, the Soviet government, the Soviet side will stand up for the interests of its citizens. I think that the deputies should back up the Soviet leadership on this.

But I would like to raise another question. Excuse me, is it all accidental? Is it an accident that two members of this parliament make a statement saying that the Minister of Internal Affairs was removed successfully and that the time has come to settle accounts with the Foreign Minister? The statement has been circulated literally throughout the world press and our newspapers.

Are they such daredevils, these lads—I will call them that, age permits me to because they are really boys in colonel's epaulets—to address such statements to a minister, to a member of the government? ...

In this connection, I remember the party congress [in July 1990]. Was this really a chance phenomenon? Because at the congress a real struggle developed, a most acute struggle between the reformers and—I will not say conservatives be

-567-

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