NEW YORK (Dec. 28)
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, met recently with President Nicolae Ceausescu of Rumania in Bucharest.
They reviewed U.S.-Rumanian relations, international issues including the Middle East situation and discussed at length the new law requiring Rumanian nationals seeking to emigrate to repay the government for the free secondary and higher education they received, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation announced today.
Schneier, who is spiritual leader of the Park East Synagogue here, said Ceausescu justified the law on the basis of “brain drain” and stated that “while the law cannot be repealed, any diplomatic solutions that will take into account the principles of our sovereignty will be considered.”
In that connection, President Reagan has named Lawrence Eagleburger, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, as a special envoy to Bucharest to discuss all aspects of U.S.-Rumanian relations, including most favored nation status, Schneier reported. According to U.S. law, MFN for East European Communist bloc countries is linked to their emigration policies.
APPLICATION FOR REUNIFICATION
Schneier said Ceausescu showed appreciation for the reunification of Rumanian Jews with their families in Israel. The new education tax law, published last November 6, primarily affects Rumanians of German descent who wish to emigrate to West Germany, Rumanians seeking to go to the U.S. and Rumanian Jews who wish to go to Israel.
Schneier told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that “Jews who are leaving at this point have not been affected by the new law.” Ceausescu did not refer, in his hour-and-40-minute meeting with Schneier on December 9, to the assertion by Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen of Rumania on November 24 that Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel will be exempted from the education repayment law.
Robin said at the time that the Rumanian authorities made a distinction between emigration and “aliya.” A Jew who goes to Israel to be reunited with his family is not an “emigrant” and “his problem was treated in a totally different way,” the Chief Rabbi said.
Schneier flew to Jerusalem after meeting with Ceausescu to report on his conversations to Premier Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir. He has only recently returned to the United States. He said today, “It is my clear impression that President Ceausescu was not interested in a collision course on this issue,” referring to MFN status. “If anything, he seeks an improvement in the U.S.-Rumanian bilateral relationship that has seen some strains in the last year.”