U.S. to Press for Further Implementation of Helsinki Act
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U.S. to Press for Further Implementation of Helsinki Act

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A key U.S. State Department official announced that the Administration will press for further implementation of the security provisions of the Helsinki Final Act when the signatories meet in Madrid in November, 1980.

Matthew Nimetz, U.S. State Department Counselor, in a luncheon address before the Leadership Conference of the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry, said that while the United States retains its overriding interest in the human rights and humanitarian affairs provisions of the Final Act, the U.S. denegation to the review meeting in Madrid will seek to enhance the implementation of the security area, in order to achieve a “balanced basis” that would enhance all provisions of the document.

The Helsinki Final Act, which was signed by the leaders of the U.S. Canada and 33 European nations, including the Soviet Union on Aug. 1, 1975, recognized the interrelationship of security in Europe and security in the rest of the world and the necessity of general disarmament under effective international controls.

Addressing more than 100 religious leaders representing Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox and Jewish communities from across the country, Nimetz said that the Administration was well aware of the great importance of the interest shown by private groups in the Helsinki review process and “encourages their participation and deeper commitment to this process, especially in the human rights area.”


In a message to the Leadership Conference, Rep. Robert Drinan (D. Mass.) noted that activists in the Soviet Union seeking Soviet compliance with the Helsinki Act’s human rights provisions, “remain behind bars or are substantially denied due process of Soviet law. Among them: Anatoly Shcharansky. Yuri Orlov, Vladimir Slepak, Ida Nudel and Nahum Meiman.”

Though the number of exit visas granted to Soviet Jews has risen, Drinan continued, “Soviet officials are presently conducting a systematic campaign of harassment against those seeking to leave the Soviet Union. Mail and telephone communications are censored or cut off completely, job security is threatened and some activists are being forced into the Soviet armed forces upon application to leave.”

The demands now being made by Soviet Jews and other minorities are “crucial in the event that during the upcoming 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Soviet Union may take every opportunity to silence the dissident community,” Drinan said. “If SALT II is ratified, the Most Favored Nation status granted the Soviets, once the Olympics have passed, we could lose our leverage in influencing Soviet behavior.”

A supporter of SALT II, Drinan said that the U.S. and private groups must continue to insure that Soviet Jews will be allowed to leave the Soviet Union in accordance with internationally accepted standards of emigration and family reunification. After the conference, an interreligious vigil was conducted at the Isaiah Wall across from the United Nations.

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