Truth Is My Sword Volume I - Collected Speeches in the Public Arena

by Bo Hi Pak

The New Wave of Soviet Restructuring and Openness

April 9, 1990

The following speech was made amid the backdrop of the dismantling of the Soviet Empire and of the Soviet Union itself, which had begun to unfold during the summer of 1989. On June 5, 1989, the once-outlawed Solidarity Party won an impressive victory in Poland's parliamentary elections, while Hungary proclaimed its decision to remove itself from Soviet control and reform the economy according to free market standards. Hungary removed stretches of barbed wire from its frontier to the West, providing a chance for hundreds of East Germans to escape to the West through Hungary. Then, in late autumn, the whole system fell like a row of dominoes. The East German government resigned; the Berlin Wall was opened on November 9, and the two sectors of Berlin were suddenly one city again. The collapse of the Berlin Wall was the most symbolic of acts, signifying that the Cold War was quickly coming to an end.
On November 24 the Communist leaders of Czechoslovakia resigned, and by late December reformer Alexander Dubcek was elected chairman of Parliament and once-jailed dissident poet Vaclau Havel was elected president. The Communist leader of Bulgaria resigned on November 10. Revolution also came to Romania violently in December, with dictator Nicolai Ceausescu and his wife arrested and executed on Christmas Day. Also in 1990, Albania began movements toward reform, and the communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua lost power in a democratic election. The following remarks were given by Dr. Pak on the occasion of the third meeting of the Summit Council for World Peace, the ninth assembly of the Association for the Unity of Latin America, and the 11th meeting of the World Media Association at the Mezhdunarodnaya Hotel, Moscow, April 9, 1990.

Mr. President, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen. Good morning and welcome to Moscow, the third meeting of the Summit Council for World Peace, the ninth assembly of the Association for the Unity of Latin America, and the 11th World Media Conference.

The World Media Association, founded by Reverend Sun Myung Moon in 1978, is a forum for members of the print and broadcast media to discuss freely the crucial issues of their profession and the world. In addition, there are a number of fields, such as politics, academia, and public policy-media-related professions-whose fates are also linked to the press. Reverend Moon thought these people should be involved in the discussion as well.

For that reason, this year we are also conducting simultaneously the third meeting of the Summit Council for World Peace and the ninth gathering of the Association for the Unity of Latin America, known as AULA. The Summit Council for World Peace, as you may know, is an association of former heads of state and heads of government, together with other significant leaders, that promotes peaceful international relations. AULA is an organization of similar membership that works toward greater cooperation and integration of the Latin American nations. These two organizations, also founded by Reverend Moon, are joining Novosti Press Agency and the World Media Association in cosponsorship of this international gathering.

Altruistic in its founding and motivation, the first World Media Conference was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in 1978. Nine more conferences followed in various parts of the world, including New York, Washington, Cartagena, Tokyo, and Seoul.

With journalists, seeing is believing, and so Reverend Moon asked the association to conduct fact-finding tours, assisting the media in getting first-hand information on location at the pivotal hot spots of the world by arranging access to world leaders, members of the opposition, and other key players in a country or region. Since that time, members of the World Media Association have traveled to Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Africa for direct access to the news sources and the vital issues of our day.

Though journalists have accompanied us to every part of the world, the most sought after fact-finding trips have always been the ones we conducted to the Soviet Union. We have come here on seven previous occasions with journalists. Without a doubt, those tours contributed to our present good relations with the Soviet media and were a factor in deciding to hold the 11th World Media Conference in Moscow.

And this brings us to the 11 th World Media Conference, held in the country that any journalist in the world today would put on the top of the list as the linchpin in international affairs-the fastest-changing, most critical, and, for journalists, certainly the most interesting country in the world today: the Soviet Union. We could not have come at a better time to discuss the relationship of the world press to the crucial issues of East-West cooperation in the world of politics, the environment, and economics.

In a recent interview with Moscow News, Reverend Moon expressed his admiration for the Soviet people and their leaders. He spoke highly of President Mikhail Gorbachev and his courage in promoting democratic principles.

Indeed, since coming to power in 1985, Gorbachev has made remarkable changes in the Soviet Union. He encouraged greater freedom of expression and undertook a restructuring of the Soviet economy. He also brought new thinking in foreign relations. Nations in both the Eastern and Western blocs that had suffered under oppressive regimes began to experience freedom. The Berlin Wall came down, symbolizing the dawning of a new era of reconciliation.

When he was in Rome last year, Gorbachev expressed the importance of spiritual values, saying, "We need a revolution of the mind." He added that "the moral values that religion generated and embodied for centuries can help in the work of renewal in our country." As a result of these policies, at this very moment, worship services are being conducted in thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples throughout this vast and diverse country.

A new day has arrived in the Soviet Union. On behalf of the founder of the organizations that have convened here today, I would like to commend President Gorbachev and the people of the Soviet Union. We are here to meet with you, exchange ideas, and learn from you.

Furthermore, on behalf of the World Media Association and all of our distinguished conference participants, I want to express our appreciation to the men and women of the Soviet media that have done so much to welcome us to their country. When one speaks of dynamic and energetic press, it is hard to find a country where the sense of mission is as intense as it is among the press corps of the Soviet Union. Each day, they venture further into uncharted territory, redrawing the boundaries and reinventing the definition of what is the media in the USSR.

The people we have met at the Moscow News, Gostteleradio, Tass, Izvestia, Pravda, Za Rubezhom, and numerous other news organizations have proven to be exceptional people of great courage and determination seeking to shed light on the political and social developments taking place here.

To our colleagues in the Soviet media, I want to say that you are earning the admiration of your fellow newsmen throughout the world, and I would like to extend my appreciation to you for what you are doing.

Most important for us in the creation of this historic gathering, however, was the hard work and cooperation of Novosti Press Agency. Often serving as the strongest link between the news media of the Soviet Union and those of the rest of the world, Novosti has been playing a crucial role in assisting journalists world-wide in gaining access to hard-to-reach news sources in the USSR. By doing so, they have placed their organization alongside those that are in the forefront of the twin movements of glasnost and perestroika. I would like to express my appreciation to our colleagues and cosponsors, Novosti Press Agency.

Ladies and gentlemen, as the president of the World Media Association, there are always many enjoyable and interesting roles I can reserve for myself. In general, I let the board of chairmen and the executive director handle most of the duties. However, there is one great pleasure I have insisted on keeping for myself this year. That is the pleasure of introducing our next speaker, the chairman of Novosti Press Agency.

Dr. Albert Vlasov has had a most distinguished career in journalism. After graduating from the Oriental Studies Department of Moscow State University with a Ph.D. in history, he devoted his scientific career to communications, authoring a number of books on mass communications, including the history and practice of the U.S. press.

While engaged in studying the media, he has also been a practicing member of the press corps, beginning as a reporter for Tass in the 'S0s and '60s during the years of Sputnik, Nikita Khrushchev, and the greatest superpower rivalries. He worked as a correspondent in China and Burma for part of that time. He later turned to diplomatic work for a time, serving in the Soviet Embassy in Sweden and participating in meetings of the United Nations in Geneva.

Joining Novosti Press Agency in the early '70s, he rose quickly through the ranks of upper management until two years ago, when he was elected chairman of the board of directors of the agency. He has contributed greatly to the stature of Novosti, which under his innovative leadership has attained a leading position among the Soviet press.

It is my great honor to bring to the podium one of the leaders of the new wave of Soviet journalism, a pioneer and a man of vision, the chairman of Novosti Press Agency, Dr. Albert Ivanovich Vlasov.

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