Geneva Summit: 30th Anniversary Conference

Thirty years ago, on 19 November 1985, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev met in Geneva for their first summit meeting for talks that helped usher in the end of the Cold War. Reagan found in Gorbachev a willing interlocutor who brought a generational shift in Soviet thinking, and a determination to end the Cold War nuclear arms race. Three decades on, the cooperation that followed the Geneva Summit has all but disappeared. The question for modern policy-makers is how might the spirit of Geneva be rekindled?

The Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security invited scholars and practitioners to reflect on the legacy of the meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev, exploring what went right, what went wrong, and assessing the prognosis for the future. The central focus of this event was to address the question of how trust was developed between the two leaders, why the relationship has broken down in the intervening years, and whether trust can be restored given the current state of US-Russia relations.

Download the Conference Report.

Geneva Summit 2015

Amongst our distinguished speakers were Jack Matlock (former US Ambassador to the Soviet Union), Sir Rodric Braithwaite (former British Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Russia), and Anatoly Adamishin (former Russian Ambassador to the UK), who offered their perspectives on their experiences from the time of the summit and its aftermath. See the full list of speakers (PDF 449KB).

Videos and podcasts

More information

The Geneva summit thawed the Cold War – so why have we squandered its legacy? (19 November 2015)
Written by Nicholas John Wheeler, University of Birmingham and David Hastings Dunn, University of Birmingham. 30 years ago, Reagan and Gorbachev ushered in a new era of cordial relations. It's time to recapture that spirit.

Podcast: Russian adventurism under Putin: Lessons from Ukraine and Syria (Friday 20th November 2015)
Speaker: Ambassador Jack Matlock. During his 35 years in the American Foreign Service (1956-1991), Jack Matlock served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European and Soviet Affairs on the National Security Council Staff from 1983 until 1986, and Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1981 to 1983. Before his appointment to Moscow as Ambassador, Mr. Matlock served three tours at the American Embassy in the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1981.

Geneva Conference: Storify
The event was live-tweeted by UoB doctoral researchers Ana Alecsandru, Scott Edwards, Josh Baker, and Gavin Hall.