University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

South Bend, November 14,1985

Before the Summit

In his televised address to the nation, President Reagan expounded his hopes, plans and wishes for the forthcoming summit meeting in Geneva. The campaign to win the favor of public opinion, which, for weeks, has been running in high gear in America and in Europe, has reached its peak. Reagan explained in stirring words that the meeting in Geneva could bring a turning point in the relationship with the Soviet Union. A stronger cultural exchange program to reduce mutual distrust is being planned. America is also ready to take into consideration the Russian proposal of reducing nuclear weapons by 50% if it is verifiable. If this means that an agreement could be reached for a nuclear free zone in Central Europe, remains to be seen.

[President Reagan flew with about 300 staff members and advisers on Saturday, November 16, 1985, to Geneva. The following Tuesday, November 19, he met for the first time Mikhail Gorbachev.]

Wednesday, November 20, 1985

The Historic Handshake

The historic handshake between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the General Secretary of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev took place yesterday at 10 a.m. in the Villa Fleur d’Eau in Geneva. From that moment on, the attention of the world has been drawn on the Geneva summit meeting.

November 21, 1985

Few Concrete Results

While America was still sound asleep, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev issued today in Geneva a joint statement on the results of the summit meeting at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. EST). Except for an agreement on cultural exchange, no treaties were signed, nor have any tangible results been achieved on the reduction of nuclear weapons. Reagan remained steadfast on the SDI, just as the Russian side made no concessions on the reduction of offensive strategic nuclear weapons. But, nonetheless, the Geneva summit meeting was a success. The ice seems to have been broken; both sides have come closer in talking to each other. By a breath, the world has become safer. It could also mean the beginning for improved American-Russian relations, reducing the deep-seated mutual distrust. After his departure from Geneva, Gorbachev made a stopover in Prague to inform the members of the Warsaw Pact, while Reagan went to Brussels to keep the NATO partners abreast of the Geneva meeting.

This summit meeting in Geneva demonstrated once more how closely the world has become interconnected by television as a media. One simply got the impression of having been present in Geneva. Also, for the first time an American president was visible on Russian television in larger sections, while Gorbachev was shown on American television more from his human side. Only in a few years hence, will it be possible to judge if this summit meeting really was a turning point in world politics.

November 21, 10 p.m. EST

All in One Day

An hour ago, President Reagan was enthusiastically welcomed by a joint session of Congress. After a 20-hour day - at first finishing the summit in Geneva, then meeting with the NATO allies in Brussels, flying back across the Atlantic, and immediately after landing at Andrews Air Force Base being whisked by helicopter to the Capitol - Reagan informed Congress about his talks with Gorbachev. It was a splendid speech that commanded respect from a 74-year-old after such a tour de force. As Reagan indicated, there will be further discussions on reducing the nuclear arsenals. Despite fundamental differences of opinion, both sides have decidedly come closer together. Gorbachev will come to Washington next June, and Reagan will visit Moscow the year thereafter.

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