Mr. Gorbachev also pledged swift action to ensure an adequate food supply, normal operation of railroads and protection of the army from discrimination and harassment.
The plan follows a paradoxical pattern that has remained consistent almost since Mr. Gorbachev came to power in 1985. Although the goal of his reforms is ostensibly a decentralization of power, he has seized more and more power himself to implement the reforms while preserving the union.
Parliamentary deputies and the republican representatives invited to the session were deeply divided over the future of the union.
On the one hand, republican nationalists and many Russian intellectuals believe the union cannot and should not be preserved in its present form. They propose respecting republican demands for independence and developing purely economic relations. At least five of the 15 republics have ruled out signing any treaty to create a renewed Soviet Union, and other republics are wavering.
On the other hand, Mr. Gorbachev and many deputies see the dissolution of the union as the ultimate evil, likely to exact a heavy historical price in ethnic bloodshed and economic and political chaos.
The latest instance came yesterday, in response to a statement Friday from Akaky Asatiani, deputy speaker of the Georgian parliament, that Georgia would not sign a union treaty and would pursue independence outside the U.S.S.R.