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STANFORD -- Citing U.S.-Soviet coordination in such areas as the U.N. Security Council and the Middle East, former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze said that "much that is going on in the world today depends on U.S.-Soviet relations."
"This general line of cooperation between our countries must be continued if we want to do the right thing for everyone on the planet," Shevardnadze said in a luncheon address to scholars and administrators at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University on Saturday, May 18.
Shevardnadze spoke of the important political and economic changes taking place in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
"To a large extent these events are positive and have led to changes in the present world so that we can talk of a new world order," he said.
Evaluating conditions inside the Soviet Union, Shevardnadze praised the high education and "intellectual potential" of Soviet citizens. The challenge to reform, he said, comes from the nation's political history of dictatorship, totalitarianism and a militarized society.
"Our conscience was formed by this experience," Shevardnadze said. "Restructuring our thinking today is the most difficult reversal of all."
He warned of political instability and said that if the Soviet Union slips into "chaos and anarchy, we will see the appearance of a new totalitarianism and a new dictatorship."
Nonetheless, Shevardnadze finished his remarks on an optimistic note.
"We are learning from our mistakes and democracy is becoming more important," he said. "I profoundly believe that dictatorship will not prevail. Democracy will succeed. Long live freedom!"
During the question-and-answer period that followed, Shevardnadze said that it has been difficult to take "decisions of principle" and implement them into society. He noted Soviet attempts at free market initiatives: "Creating a stock market, restructuring the banking system and implementing privatization" remain challenging goals.
Shevardnadze's remarks were followed by folk songs from Russia and the American West performed by Stanford Prof. Alexander George. The luncheon ended with a personalized rendition of "Georgia on My Mind" sung by George P. Shultz in honor of the Soviet leader who hails from the Republic of Georgia in the Soviet Union.
Shultz hosted Shevardnadze's visit to the Hoover Institution and the Stanford campus. The former secretary of state is a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution and Parker Professor of International Economics at Stanford's Graduate School of Business.
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