Kreisky Stands Pat on Schoenau
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Kreisky Stands Pat on Schoenau

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Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky who met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir today told a news conference that he had not bowed to her demand’ to reverse his Cabinet’s decision to close a Jewish transit camp at Schoenau. “No agreement has been reached,” Kreisky said after the meeting with Mrs. Meir that lasted nearly two hours. Diplomatic sources confirmed that the two leaders could not solve the existing differences of opinion

Kreisky and Mrs. Meir conferred for 30 minutes privately. Later they were joined by Austrian Minister of Interior Otto Roesch and the Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Patish. Diplomatic sources said the talks were held in a very serious atmosphere. Mrs. Meir flew back to Israel tonight. The Austrian government seems to be prepared for some sort of compromise. “I made only one proposal: The Austrian government is ready to examine the possibility to put the transit camp under the protection of the UN Commissioner of Refugees,” Kreisky said. “But Mrs. Meir did not seem to be very impressed.”

The Austrian Chancellor said he can only give his opinion of the talks because Mrs. Meir left immediately afterwards without giving any comment. The Jewish born Chancellor, like Mrs. Meir, a Socialist, stated that the Austrian government “will continue to follow humanitarian principles just as in the past.” He pointed out that only “special facilities” will not be granted any more.

Kreisky said it was his proposal to offer to the terrorists to close Schoenau. “I take the responsibility for this.” He said it was not due to the initiative of the two Arabs. He said that the decision of his Cabinet is only binding on his government and not subject to the international law. Attacked by several English-speaking journalists on the measures taken by the Austrian authorities, Kreisky replied: “Has anybody here had to decide ever before between life and death? For me it was the first time.” He said all the alternatives which were considered had meant the certain death for the hostages.

Meanwhile it was learned here that the Egyptian Minister of Tourism, Ismail Fahmi, is scheduled to come to Vienna on Thursday to thank Kreisky for closing the Schoenau camp.


The outcome of the talks did not come as a surprise for political observers in Vienna. Shortly before driving to the airport to meet Premier Meir, Kreisky defended once more his decision to close down Schoenau. He called his deal with the two Arab terrorists “a victory for humanity.”

“Would you call this a victory for blackmail” an English correspondent asked Kreisky. “No, I would not,” snapped Kreisky angrily.” This was a victory for humanity.” Kreisky emphasized that his decision against group-travelling of emigrating Soviet Jews through Austrian territory was for “their own security.” He added that the only thing the Austrian government is asking for is that they pass quickly through Austria. He underlined once more that his government will continue to grant a three-day transit visa to any Soviet Jew who asks for it.

Kreisky pointed out that despite all the critical voices he had not received any alternative proposals. In the past few years Austria has made it possible for some 70,000 Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel, he said, adding: “Everybody left us alone then. Why was there no emigration through the German Federal Republic or Switzerland or Poland?”

Mrs. Meir arrived here this morning from Strasbourg under the heaviest security precautions ever seen in the Austrian capital. Before leaving Strasbourg where she addressed representatives of 17 European parliaments, the Premier said: “I hope that tonight I shall be able to report (after meeting Kreisky) that it has all been a misunderstanding and a misinterpretation.”

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