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MS 18 - Appointment of Sir Roderic Braithwaite as Ambassador to the Soviet Union
Mr. Speaker,

I beg leave to address the House on a matter of importance.

I would like to update the House on a remarkably positive development with regards to the appointment of Sir Roderic Braithwaite who, I am delighted to announce, has been accepted as ambassador to the Soviet Union once again. The Government is overjoyed by this development in the ongoing situation and believes that it will represent a turning of the tides, of sorts, in regards to our relations with the Kremlin. 

The Rt. Hon. Baron Home of Hirsel, together with a delegation of respected former civil servants, on behalf of the Government, met with a delegation from the Soviet Union in a neutral location to discuss the situation with regards to Sir Roderic’s reappointment after a severe thawing of relations between our two countries. The Government is thankful to the Rt. Hon. Baron Home for his undying commitment to service for his country, and wish to congratulate him for his success.

This is an important step, Mr. Speaker, to the restoration and improvement of relations between the United Kingdom and one of the world’s incontrovertible superpowers. This is a step in the right direction, and there is much work left to be done which I, as Foreign Secretary, am looking forward to undertaking. To that end, I shall have more to disclose at a later date. In the meantime, I wish simply to reiterate my happiness at our having reached a conclusion to the sorry affair and to wish Sir Roderic the most excellent success in Moscow. 
Mr. Speaker,

I thank the Foreign Secretary for his statement. This is significant progress and I am glad that this step forward has been taken. Of course, most of my congratulations in this House appear to be on the government not making new strides, but in cleaning mess of its own making. Still, now that this development has occurred we can all begin to move on.

Can the Foreign Secretary confirm for the benefit of the House that with this reappointment he will be altering travel advice to British nationals seeking to travel to the Soviet Union?

And does the government have a strategy in regards to these reestablished diplomatic ties, namely one that will promote human rights and democracy within the Soviet Union?
Mr. Speaker,

I can confirm for the Hon. Lady that every effort is being made to normalize relations with the Soviet Union, including the changing of travel advice to British nationals into that country. We are, however, not prepared to simply forego the necessary and important work of ensuring that the rights and freedoms of British nationals, not to mention their bodily security, will be respected when they do choose to travel. This is an effort which, I think, will be greatly helped by having our man on the ground in the Kremlin to assist with this process and I'm sure that, working together with the Soviet Union, we will be able to achieve regularized relations, and travel, as a matter of expedient interest.

The Hon. Lady does raise another important point and I can confirm to her and the House that freedom and democracy are central to ongoing, sensitive discussions. It should be noted, however, that before anyone can exert influence over even the meekest of interlocutors, one must have a positive relationship. How much more this is true of a strong and independently-minded Soviet Union. It is this government's policy first to regularize our relations, build a strong sense of mutual trust, and then attempt to exert our not-inconsiderable influence over proceedings. As the old saying goes, Mr. Speaker, more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar. So, too, is lasting democracy and human rights in the Soviet Union caught more assuredly with friendship than with hostility.

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