Both the USSR and USA declared an end to the Cold War after the 1989 Malta Summit. The then Soviet leader, Mikail Gorbachev, later stated that:
“The Malta Summit in 1989 was so important, that if it had not taken place, the world out there would be unrecognisable to the one we live in today.”
US President George Bush and Mikail Gorbachev met over two days on the Soviet cruise ship ‘Maxim Gorky’ at a time when communist governments in Eastern Europe were collapsing. Hungary had just opened its border with the West while the new East German government, after the fall of Eric Hoenecker, lasted just seven weeks.
Both men announced that there would be a sizeable reduction in troops within Europe as a whole and that a reduction in weaponry would be the main plank of discussions at a meeting scheduled for June 1990.
At a press conference, Gorbachev announced to the world:
“I assured the President of the United States that I will never start a hot war against the USA. The world is leaving one epoch and entering another. We are at the beginning of a long road to a lasting, peaceful era. The threat of force, mistrust, psychological and ideological struggle should all be things of the past”
President Bush stated that:
“We can realise a lasting peace and transform the East-West relationship to one of enduring co-operation. That is the future that Chairman Gorbachev and I began right here in Malta.”
However, Bush also noted that change in Europe, especially Germany as an entity, could not be artificially pushed forward.
“It is not for the United States to dictate the pace of change in Germany or anywhere else.”
The Malta Summit was considered to be the most important meeting between the USA and USSR since the 1945 Yalta Conference.