Former UN Deputy Secretary-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze on the background of the meeting of the US and Russian presidents in Geneva told about the meeting of the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan in 1985.
As the diplomat recalls, there were no difficulties in organizing a meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan through the Foreign Ministry. “The meeting was standard, I don’t remember any special deviations in one direction or another,” he said, noting that such meetings are always associated with enormous stress, including for the organizers.
“Gorbachev met with Reagan one-on-one, talked for quite a long time. Heads of state – they are also people; they feel mutual understanding, some kind of sympathy or antipathy. Why do I find it impossible to conduct diplomacy in an online format? Because diplomacy is done by people, in the course of their meeting: how the conversation will be set, how well the parties understand each other, are friendly, how well they have developed relations. A lot depends on it. Sometimes it seems that the positions are politically different, and the relations are formed, and sometimes vice versa,” Ordzhonikidze said. According to the expert, a one-on-one meeting provides “a more direct and frank conversation,” although it is often necessary to have an interpreter present.
According to Ordzhonikidze, the services of an interpreter, who worked for a long time with Brezhnev, and then with Gorbachev, were satisfied. “These are all Foreign Ministry employees who enjoy special trust, and people who know how to keep their mouths shut,” the expert explained.
He stressed that the atmosphere at the meeting was quite relaxed. “Gorbachev tried to please the whole world, especially the Western world, so the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. Relations were on the rise, on the improvement, and this was stated repeatedly. We gave up our positions, they were happy. And now we don’t give up, they are far from happy,” Ordzhonikidze said.
Earlier, the Kremlin noted that the talks between Putin and Biden will consist of three parts: a narrow and two extended ones with a break for tea and coffee. On the eve of the meeting, a source familiar with the preparations for the meeting told that they are designed for 4 hours and 45 minutes.