Pero apenas dos semanas después se produciría un acontecimiento que pasaría a la Historia: el Golpe de Agosto, con el que se iniciaría una serie de hechos que en apenas cuatro meses pondrían el punto y final a la URSS.
En este artículo puedes leer íntegramente el discurso que Gorbachev pronunció hace hoy catorce años.
The New Union Treaty
, August 6, 1991
My address to you today deals with an important event in our country’s life. As you know, intensive work has been under way lately on the draft of a new union treaty. Today I have sent letters to the heads of the delegations authorized by the republics’ supreme soviets, proposing to begin the signing of the treaty on August 20 this year.
Letters have also been sent to the republics that have yet to define their stance. The delegations from the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan are to be the first to sign the treaty. Then, after set periods of time, it will be signed by the representatives of the other republics that took an active part in drafting and coordinating the treaty. This procedure will enable the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet to complete consideration of the draft. A referendum will be held in the meantime in Armenia. Moldova will adopt a decision on its attitude toward the union treaty. The peoples of Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia will also be able to determine their position on this vital matter.
Thus, we are entering a decisive stage in the transformation of our multiethnic state into a democratic federation of equitable Soviet sovereign republics. What does the conclusion of the new union treaty mean for the country’s life? First and foremost, it is a manifestation of the people’s will, expressed at the March 17 referendum. The treaty envisages the transformation of the union on the basis of continuity and renewal.
Union statehood, the result of the work of many generations and of all the nations of our motherland, will be preserved. At the same time, a new, truly voluntary, association of sovereign states is being created. In this association all nations will manage their affairs on their own and will freely develop their culture, language, and traditions.
This is the essence of the reform of our state system. On the one hand, the independence of the republics is effectively guaranteed. On the other hand, tackling common tasks, which they voluntarily delegate to the federal authorities, to the union, is guaranteed in an equally effective way. Resolving these problems required tremendous effort and a deep feeling of responsibility. The republican and federal parliaments, governments, and public and scientific organizations have worked hard. Numerous proposals of citizens were also analyzed.
The new union treaty reflects a reasonable balance of interests, which the life and work of people demands in our renewed federation. We have all gained some experience recently, bitter experience, I should say, of the clash of different laws and different levels of authority. All this affected most negatively the life of society, the pace of changes, and the perestroika policy in general. I am sure that the signing of the treaty will remove the main causes of that abnormal situation. Everybody should be clearly aware of the sphere of his activities, fulfill his duties, and be accountable to the nation. This will make for a strengthening of law and order.
In the common interest, the republics delegate to union bodies such important functions as ensuring the country’s defense and security. United armed forces and the integrity of security bodies are preserved for that purpose. The coordination of law-enforcement bodies makes it possible to protect citizens’ interests and to combat crime.
The solution of many important problems will be ensured jointly by the union and the republics. The treaty contains provisions on whose basis mechanisms of coordination will operate.
When the treaty goes into effect, there will be major changes in the conditions of economic development. It is extremely important that the separation of powers between the union and the republics that is recorded in the treaty envisages the preservation and all-around development of a full-fledged all-union market, with a single currency, financial and crediting system, customs rules, and coordinated principles of social protection. Enterprises have broad opportunities to tap advantages stemming from the economic reform.
It’s hard to imagine how economic independence can be achieved if such a market, if the chief players of the market -enterprises, and work collectives- are limited in their possibilities.
It is important to preserve old economic ties. Their rupture has a negative impact on the affairs of work collectives.
At the same time, there is a need to form new ties suggested by the present situation.
There is wide room for interaction among republics and regions within the framework of the common economic space. We know now what the rupture of economic ties means and what barriers on borders between republics and separate regions entail.
This ailment, by the way, has not disappeared; it persists. That is why we need a common, full-fledged market. All peoples, republics, and enterprises need it.
The conclusion of the new union treaty makes a substantial contribution to our international activity as well. It confirms that the revamped federation is a successor to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Soviet Union will remain a great world power. It preserves in full measure the position it gained in the international arena; it also retains its obligations before other states. This is of fundamental importance, and not only for us, but also for the entire international community, which highly values our country’s contribution to the shaping of new international relations and their transition into a channel of sound development. The potential and role of all the republics are manifested in a new way within the framework of a common foreign policy. The treaty endorses their right to maintain diplomatic, consular, cultural, and other ties, and to establish trade relations with foreign states. This opens up new opportunities for mastering world experience, for the country’s integration into the global economy.
In brief, the treaty creates prerequisites for profound changes for the better in all spheres of social and state life. One can expect that its positive effect will begin to make itself felt in the near future.
Of course, we should not simplify the matter. The treaty provides for a considerable reconstruction of bodies of power and management. It will be necessary to work out and adopt a new Constitution, renovate the election law, hold elections and restructure the judicial system.
While this process is developing, the Congress of People’s Deputies, the Soviet parliament, the government, and other federal authorities should work hard. Thus, a period of transformation of our union, which we are entering, promises considerable gain. At the same time, it requires from all of us a profound feeling of responsibility and a high level of organization.
Nothing can be accomplished automatically. We are witnessing perhaps the most profound changes in the history of our state. Much will depend on mutual understanding and interaction in society. It is always difficult to move from the way of life to which one is accustomed to a new, a different one. Accord is needed between the union and the republics among political and public movements, among all those who hold our motherland dear.
Now that we have the treaty, which will be signed by the republics in the near future, confrontation and political intolerance, which cannot be justified in any way, should be ruled out of the life of our state. These phenomena do exist. They create instability in society and deprive it of the possibility of displaying cohesion in the present difficult, crisis situation.
We have taken to the path of reforms necessary to the whole country. The new union treaty will help overcome the crisis and bring our life back to normal. I think you will agree with me that this is the most important thing today.