THE WHITE HOUSE
MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION
SUBJECT: Meeting with Vaclav Havel, President of
James A. Baker III, Secretary of State
Nicholas Brady, Secretary of the Treasury
John·H. Sununu, Chief of Staff
Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President
for National Security Affairs
Robert Zoellick, Counsellor, Department of
Raymond G.H. Seitz, Assistant Secretary of
State for European and Canadian Affairs
Shirley Temple Black, Ambassador to
Robert L. Hutchings, Director for European
Political Affairs, NSC Staff
Lisa Valyiova, Interpreter
Vaclav Havel, President
Marian Calfa, Prime Minister
Vladimir Dlouhy, Deputy Prime Minister
Jiri Dienstbier, Foreign Minister
Vaclav Klaus, Minister 'of Finance
Andrej Barcak, Minister of Foreign Trade
Rita Klimova, Advisor to the President
Michael Zantovsky, Presidential Press
Alexandra Brabcova, Interpreter
February 20, 1990, il:33 - 12:10 am
The Cabinet Room
Following their Oval Office meeting, the President and President
Havel met for an expanded meeting in the Cabinet Room at 11:33.
The President: Mr. President, let me welcome you and introduce
you to several of our Cabinet officials.
I wouldn't dare to
speak for any of them -- they're too independent.
But this I can
say: welcome. We've been looking forward to your visit. For
the benefit of our colleagues, let me just say that the President
PER E.O. 12958,
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and I had a very good discussion.
I told him I would sign the
Jackson-Vanik waiver, which would be good for both our countries.
This should be followed with Most Favored Nation status for
Czechoslovakia, although we need a trade agreement first. We
will push from our side to get that done. The President told me
he wanted to work in other areas as well -- the environment, the
economy, and in the area of cultural exchanges. He proposed that
our Peace Corps be more active in English-language teaching and
We can get started with that, if it is agreeable.
On our side, we need something from Congress on OPIC and other
bilateral issues we talked about.
President Havel: There was also our proposal for an agreement
between our security services. This is a follow-up to Secretary
Baker's meeting in Prague.
The President: On one technical point, we will ask Congress to
authorize OPIC to operate in Czechoslovakia. We are on the same
wave length in bilateral issues.
I am also interested in having
your view of Europe.
I can tell you from our side why we feel as
I hope that before you leave, you can get as close as
possible to our views of what we call "Europe whole and free" and
on the U. S. role.
I will be pleased to explain my viewpoint and
will speak to that in my Congressional speech tomorrow. We
believe developments in Europe are proceeding faster and creating
new tasks. For example, we believe a Germany undergoing a
process of reunification should accelerate the all-European
process, not complicate it. We believe this year's CSCE Summit
should take decisions that the Helsinki process should grow into
something more. The next summit could be a kind of peace
conference marking the final post-war settlement.
It might be
possible to hold the next summit earlier than 1992. The talks
should also be devoted to the creation of a new European security
system, also including links to the United States, Canada, and
the USSR, but different from the present one.
I have no
intention to dissolve the Warsaw Pact tomorrow and NATO the day
I would like to conclude these general remarks with one final
It is perhaps not so strongly felt in the U.S. as in my
country, but we have a strong feeling that the process of the
destruction of totalitarian systems is irreversible for the USSR
as well as for Eastern Europe.
In the Soviet Union, the process
is much more complicated and may take a number of dramatic turns,
but it is historically irreversible. For history, there is no
In that context, I believe it is in the interest of
ourselves, the United States, and the whole world to help the
process in the Soviet Union to proceed as peacefully as possible
without dramatic earthquakes.
In this regard, I think the U.S.
has much wider possibilities than we to offer, for example,
humanitarian assistance to the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
It is in our interest that the process in the Soviet Union go on
without civil war.
There are certain conservative forces there
who are thinking "the worse, the better" and are trying to foment
problems. We are now negotiating with the Soviet Union about the
withdrawal of their troops.
I got a letter from Gorbachev
explaining the domestic reasons why the withdrawal cannot happen
too rapidly. There is a better life for soldiers in
Czechoslovakia and no housing for them in the Soviet Union. We
should conclude an agreement for withdrawal in some form in the
near future and would like to accelerate it for the sake of
stability in our own country and the whole of Europe, but we are
not overlooking Soviet concerns. Any help that could be given to
improving the domestic situation in the Soviet union would be
helpful for us and also our neighbors, who are in the same
situation. That is a general outline of the question the
President put to me. Now that I have spoken so long, let me turn
the floor back to the President.
The President: May I just say before we walk over to the White
House what our position is.
"Historically irreversible change"
is what you call what is going on in the Soviet Union.
you're right and have no reason to argue the point, but the
problems facing Mr. Gorbachev are extraordinarily difficult --
not only economic but also ethnic, in the Baltic states and
elsewhere. We think that our presence in Europe -- military and
economic -- has been a stabilizing presence, not a threatening
presence. We're convinced of that in our heart of hearts.
in this country look at the changes in Eastern Europe and the
Soviet Union and they say we ought to think more selfishly about
what's best for the U.S.
Some say that if all Soviet troops go .
out, all U.S. forces should go out too. That's in this country.
In Western Europe, I don't hear anyone saying that, because they
still see us as stabilizing, not threatening. Whatever happens
with the German question, West European countries see the U.S.
presence as stabilizing. From talks I and Secretary Baker have
had with East European 'leaders, there is some of that feeling
You have been very tactful in not telling me about your economic
problems, so I shall be very tactful in not telling you about the
economic problems I have. But there is sentiment here to pull
back, driven partly by economics, for a "peace dividend." Our
view, my Administration's view, is that we shouldn't withdraw and
declare peace. We shouldn't decouple or delink ourselves from
I believe from my talks with Gorbachev in Malta, and
Secretary Baker's several talks with Shevardnadze, that the
Soviets don't see us a threat to their reform. Further, I'm
convinced that after what may have been a shaky start, or what
some perceived as a shaky start, that he knows we want
perestroika to succeed and want him to succeed. We have not
tried to accelerate change by putting pressure on, for example,
the Baltic states. We are not trying to complicate his agenda by
calling for a free Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia. We are not
trying to stir up problems in Armenia or Azerbaijan. We have
made it clear to him we want to work with him on a broad agenda
of economic cooperation, but he is way behind Czechoslovakia,
even in an understanding how market economies work. We want to
see a continued evolution of freedom wherever it is denied and
want to see, in a broad philosophical sense, self-determination,
and we want to see stability.
It is in the interest of the u.s. to see a stable Europe "whole
and free." So when we talk about a continued role for NATO, we
are not speaking of a Maginot Line across Europe, but a revised
agenda, a political agenda, for NATO and a stabilizing u.s.
presence. When we talk about Germany in NATO, we are not talking
about extending military forces all the way through the GDR.
That's not what we have in mind at all.
The big question we get
in the press is "Who's the enemy?" I hope there isn't an enemy.
I hope you're right about historically irreversible change and
hope this is enhanced by a democratic, freedom-loving United
States whose forces in history have threatened no one. We can
talk more at lunch, but I wanted you to know what we mean about a
broader role for NATO and a continuing role for u.s. forces.
if the Europeans don't want us, we'll haul our
forces out of there fast.
That would make a lot of happy mothers
We wouldn't stay a day longer than we're wanted.. I
just want to get that off my chest.
I believe I may have been misunderstood.
think there is no doubt about the stabilizing role of the U.S.
and NATO at the present time. There is no doubt in the Soviet
Union either. But I would just point out that the world is
changing. NATO may be transformed into part of a new security
system comprising all of the CSCE countries, with a continuing
u.S. role. But history is going so fast that some day your
troops may return to their mothers, though not all at once.
The President: Let me just mention that our immediate objective
is fewer numbers of troops. We are making it clear to the Soviet
Union that there will not be absolute synchronizing of one-to-
one, one Soviet for one U.S. soldier. But, I agree. Who knows?
I hate to think that forever and ever U.S. forces will remain in
Shall we continue our philosophical discussions over
chow? One thing you mentioned interests me. You said "without
earthquakes." Let me assure you that everything our diplomacy is
aimed at is not inflicting on them dramatic earthquakes. We
won't retreat from our commitment to freedom and human rights
about which you've written so eloquently, but we want to manage
change "without earthquakes."
End of Conversation
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