NEW YORK (Jan. 11)
Two major Soviet Jewry groups have taken somewhat different positions on the issue of future American trade relations with the Soviet Union.
Pamela Cohen, national president of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, said Tuesday night that her organization did not feel the United States owed the Soviets a quid pro quo for their release of more refuseniks.
Cohen spoke to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency only hours after the National Conference on Soviet Jewry announced it has agreed to reexamine its stance against improving U.S.-Soviet trade relations, in light of recent positive changes in the way the Soviets treat their Jewish population.
Cohen said she and Micah Naftalin, national executive director of the Union of Councils, were consulted by U.S. Commerce Secretary C. William Verity on the subject of U.S.-Soviet trade and Soviet Jewish emigration.
She said they told Verity they believed the Soviets had already “received two major concessions.”
They cited the agreement by Western nations to sign the concluding document of the human rights conference now concluding in Vienna, as well as the agreement that Moscow will host an international human rights conference in 1991.
Cohen pointed out that the Soviets wanted to host the conference “very badly.”
NEED TO ‘WAIT AND SEE’
“It’s important now for us to wait and see, to observe and critically assess Soviet promises on future reform,” she said.
Cohen told JTA she and Naftalin were attending the closing session of the Vienna conference when they were summoned to a meeting by the outgoing commerce secretary.
She said Verity “was interested in knowing our reactions to some of the recent concessions that Moscow had made in terms of the higher numbers and release of some of the permissions for long-term refuseniks.”
He “wanted to find out how favorable were these moves, to take the temperature of the (Soviet Jewry) movement. He wanted to know what should come next in order to encourage the Soviets,” Cohen said.
Cohen said she and Naftalin also met Tuesday with Rozanne Ridgway, assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs.
She said Ridgway “assured us she would make no recommendation to make further concessions, that this was a period of great instability, that we would need to classify and measure Soviet performance on this new ground.”