Here are excerpts from Russian President Boris Yeltsin's address yesterday to Congress. The transcript was prepared by the Associated Press.
It is indeed a great honor for me to address the Congress of the great land of freedom as the first ever, over 1,000 years of history of Russia, popularly-elected president, as a citizen of the great country which has made its choice in favor of liberty and democracy.
For many years our two nations were the two poles, the two opposites. That affected the destinies of the world in a most tragic way. The world was shaken by the storms of confrontation. It was close to exploding, close to perishing beyond salvation.
That evil scenario is becoming a thing of the past. Reason begins to triumph over madness. We have left behind the period when America and Russia looked at each other through gun sights, ready to pull the trigger at any time.
Tomorrow will be a day of peace, a day less of fear and more of hope for the happiness of our children.
The world can sigh in relief. The idol of communism, which spread everywhere social strife, animosity and unparalleled brutality, which instilled fear in humanity, has collapsed. It has collapsed never to rise again.
I am here to assure you we shall not let it rise again in our land. I am proud that the people of Russia have found strength to shake off the crushing burden of the totalitarian system. I am proud that I am addressing you on behalf of the great people whose dignity is restored. I admire ordinary Russian men and women who, in spite of severe trials, have preserved their intellectual integrity and are enduring tremendous hardships for the sake of the revival of their country.
Russia has made its final choice in favor of a civilized way of life, common sense, and universal human heritage. I am convinced that our people will reach that goal.
There is no people on this earth who could be harmed by the air of freedom. There are no exceptions to that rule.
Liberty will not be fooled. There can be no coexistence between democracy and the totalitarian state system. There can be no coexistence between market economy and powers who control everything and everyone. There can be no coexistence between a civic society, which is pluralist by definition, and communist intolerance to dissent. The experience of the past decades has taught us communism has no human face. Freedom and communism are incompatible.
For us, the ominous lesson of the past is relevant today as never before. It was precisely in a devastated country, with an economy in near paralysis, that Bolshevism succeeded in building a totalitarian regime, creating a gigantic war machine and an insatiable military industrial complex. This must not be allowed to happen again.
That is why economic and political reforms are the primary task for Russia today. We are facing the challenges that no one has ever faced before at any one time.
We must carry through unprecedented reforms in the economy that over these seven decades has been stripped of all market infrastructure; lay the foundations for democracy and restore the rule of law in the country that for scores of years was poisoned with social strife and political oppression; guarantee domestic, social, and political stability, as well as maintenance of civil peace. We have no right to fail in this most difficult endeavor for there will be no second try as in sports.
Our predecessors have used them all up. The reforms must succeed.
Today I am telling you what I tell my fellow countrymen: I will not go back on the reforms. And it is practically impossible to topple Yeltsin in Russia. I am in good health and I will not say "uncle" before I make the reforms irreversible.
Yesterday we concluded an unprecedented agreement on cutting down strategic offensive arsenals. They will be reduced radically in two phases, not by 30 or 40 percent as negotiated previously over 15 years. They will be slashed to less than one-third of today's strength from 21,000 nuclear warheads on both sides down to 6,000, 7,000 by the year 2000. And it has taken us only five months to negotiate.
We have simply no right to miss this unique opportunity, the moreso that nuclear arms and the future of the Russian reforms designed to make impossible any restoration of the totalitarian dictatorship in Russia are so dramatically interrelated.
I am here to say that we have the firm determination and the political will to move forward. We have proved that by what we have done. It is Russia that has put an end to the imperial policies and was the first to recognize the independence of the Baltic republics.
Russia is a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which has averted uncontrolled disintegration of the former empire and the threat of a general inter-ethnic blood bath. Russia has granted tangible powers to its autonomous republics. The Treaty of Federation has been signed and our nation has escaped the fate of the Soviet Union. Russia has preserved its unity.
It was Russia that has substantially slowed down the flywheel of militarization and is doing all it can to stop it altogether. I am formally announcing that without waiting for the treaty to be signed, we have begun taking off alert the heavy SS-18 missiles targeted on the United States of America, and the Defense Minister of Russia is here in this room to confirm that.
Russia has brought its policies towards a number of countries in line with its solemn declarations of the recent years.
We have stopped arms deliveries to Afghanistan, where the senseless military adventure has taken thousands of Russian and hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives. With external props removed, the puppet regime collapsed.
We have corrected the well-known imbalances in relations with Cuba. At present, that country is one of our Latin American partners. Our commerce with Cuba is based on universally accepted principles and world prices.
It is Russia that once and for all has done away with double standards in foreign policy. We are firmly resolved not to lie anymore, either to our negotiating partners, or to the Russian or American or any other people. There will be no more lies, ever.
The same applies to biological weapon experiments and the facts that have been revealed about American prisoners of war, the KAL 007 flight, and many other things. That list could be continued.
The archives of the KGB and the Communist Party Central Committee are being opened. Moreover, we are inviting the cooperation of the United States and other nations to investigate these dark pages.
I can promise you that each and every document in each and every archive will be examined in order to investigate the fate of every American unaccounted for. As president of Russia, I assure you that even if one American has been detained in my country and can still be found, I will find him. I will get him back to his family.
Some of you who have just risen here to applaud me have also written in the press that until Yeltsin gets things done and gets all the job done, there should be no Freedom Support Act passing through the Congress. Well, I don't really quite understand you, ladies and gentlemen. This matter has been investigated and is being investigated. Yeltsin has already opened the archives and is inviting you to join us in investigating the fate of each and every unaccounted-for American. So now you are telling me first do the job and then we shall support you in passing that act. I don't quite understand you.
We are inviting the private sector of the United States to invest in the unique and untapped Russian market, and I am saying: Do not be late. Now that the period of global confrontation is behind us, I call upon you to take a fresh look of the current policy of the United States towards Russia and also to take a fresh look at the longer-term prospects of our relations.
History is giving us a chance to fulfill President Wilson's dream, namely to make the world safe for democracy. More than 30 years ago President Kennedy addressed these words to humanity, "My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America can do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." I believe that his inspired call for working together towards a democratic world is addressed above all to our two peoples, to the people of America and to the people of Russia. Partnership and friendship of our two largest democracies in strengthening democracy is indeed a great goal.
Today, free and democratic Russia is extending its hand of friendship to the people of America. Acting on the will of the people of Russia, I am inviting you, and, through you, the people of the United States to join us in partnership in the quest for freedom and justice in the 21st century.
The Russo-American dialogue has gone through many a dramatic moment, but the peoples of Russia and America have never gone to war against each other. Even in the darkest period, our affinity prevailed over our hatred. In this context, I would like to recall something that took place 50 years ago. The unprecedented war, world war, was waging. Russia, which was bleeding white, and all our people were looking forward to the opening of the second front, and it was opened, first and foremost thanks to the active stance taken by President Roosevelt and by the American people. Sometimes, I think that if today, like during that war, a second, but peaceful, front could be opened to promote democratic market reforms, their success would be guaranteed earlier.
The passing by Congress of the Freedom Support Act could become the first step in that direction. Today legislations promoting reforms are much more important than appropriations funds. May I express the hope that the United States Congress, as the staunch advocate of freedom, will remain faithful to its strategic course on this occasion, as well.
Members of Congress, every man is a man of his own time. No exception is ever made for anyone, whether an ordinary citizen or the president. Much experience has been gained. Many things rTC have been reassessed.
I would like now to conclude my statement with the words from a song by Irving Berlin, an American of Russian descent: "God bless America," to which I add, "and Russia"