Washington (Jul. 30)
Sen. John Danforth (R. Mo.) warned the Rumanian government this week that while the Senate will not hold up most favored nation (MFN) trade status for that Communist country this year, it expects Rumania to increase the number of persons allowed to emigrate.
“I have made it clear to the representatives of the Rumanian government that the future of their relationship with the U.S. is in their hands, and that continued attention to the emigration backlog is a must,” Danforth said in a statement today.
Danforth, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, held hearings Monday to spotlight what he said was the “slowness” of Rumanian action on emigration applications, most of them from people who want to go to the U.S., West Germany and, in particular, Israel.
Since February, Danforth said, he has had conversations with Rumanian authorities, including Ambassador Nicolae Ionescu, and has written letters to the Rumanian government in which he listed the names of more than 700 Rumanians who want to emigrate. But, he said, up to now fewer than one-half of them have received permission to leave. He added, however, that the number of approvals went up “substantially” during June and July.
The Senator estimated the backlog of applications at 527 of which, he said, 177 were made since Jan. 1. “The purpose of the hearings was to keep attention trained on Rumanian emigration, particularly the continued slowness on applications to emigrate to Israel,” Danforth said.
“Although the recent rise in approved emigration is encouraging, Rumania’s government must understand that Congress, through this subcommittee, expects improvement and will not treat most favored nation status as a matter of course,” Danforth said.
Sen. Henry Jackson (D. Wash.), who is not a member of the subcommittee, testified before it. He is co-author of the Jackson-Vanik amendment which links MFN status to the emigration practices of communist countries. He said that the Rumanian government should “more than double” the number of emigrants. Jacob Birnbaum, national director of the Center for Russian and East European Jewry, testified that the current rate of Jewish emigration from Rumania is only 1,000 per year compared with three to four times that number several years ago.