WASHINGTON — Eduard A. Shevardnadze, who resigned his job as Soviet foreign minister last year with a warning that Moscow was headed for dictatorship, said Monday that democratic forces now appear to have overcome that threat.
"I think that in the autumn and winter there was a very severe danger of dictatorship," Shevardnadze said shortly before a White House meeting with President Bush. "(But) with every day we live, the threat of such a development becomes less and less."
Shevardnadze--now head of the Foreign Policy Assn., a Soviet think tank--is in the United States to appeal for financial help to advance the Soviet reform process.
In his first visit to the United States since resigning from President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's government 4 1/2 months ago, Shevardnadze said that the Soviet Union faces years of difficult restructuring if it is to emerge as a modern European nation.
"We cannot avoid getting assistance from the outside," he said. "Not necessarily charitable assistance but rather technological, intellectual and financial assistance on very favorable terms."
In a proud evaluation of his tenure as Soviet foreign minister, Shevardnadze said Cold War ideological competition is now over.
"Totalitarianism has revealed its total inadequacy as a system for organizing the life of society," he said. "I think that in the region of the Persian Gulf, the last military confrontation between democracy and totalitarianism has just occurred."