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Belgium Protests USSR Exit Fees

The Belgian government has officially protested the Soviet exit charges for Jewish scientists as “a direct attack against the fundamental liberty of man to choose for himself.” The protest was included in a message from Prime Minister Gaston Eyskens to the Belgian section of the World Jewish Congress which met here last night to protest the exit fee increases.

The Prime Minister declared that “the Belgian government joins in the protests arising throughout the world against the new dispositions of the Soviet government in regard to Jewish university graduates who wish to emigrate.” He also declared that the Belgian government had raised the issue with Soviet authorities and intended to “examine with its European partners the opportunity of bringing up this question during the United Nations General Assembly discussions.”

(Officials in Jerusalem expressed deep satisfaction today with Eyskens’ statement. The Israeli officials had been concerned about the danger that the protests against the Soviet high fees would lose momentum because of the slaying of the 11 Israeli athletes at Munich. They said they felt the Belgian Prime Minister’s stand indicated that the issue was still the object of condemnation by world leaders.)

Speakers at the meeting, including Jean Rey, Minister of State, and Baron Pierre Wigny, former Foreign Affairs Minister, branded the new situation for Soviet emigrants as creating “a slave market” which violated the Soviet Constitution. The speakers stressed that it was racism and not the Soviet Union they were condemning.

Before the meeting, some 5000 persons demonstrated in the streets, chanting such slogans as “USSR, Free the Soviet Jews.” About 100 security guards were assigned to protect the demonstrators but there were no incidents. The demonstration was organized by the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations.

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