Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Air Views on U.s.-soviet Relations, Helsinki Accords, Jewish Emigra
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Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Air Views on U.s.-soviet Relations, Helsinki Accords, Jewish Emigra

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Both former Vice President Walter Mondale and Senator Gary Hart support tying Soviet-American trade relations to free emigration of Soviet Jews, while the Rev. Jesse Jackson believes this policy — known as “linkage” — would not be necessary “if we could create an atmosphere of solution with regard to arms control and reduction.”

Their answers came in response to a questionnaire about U.S. human rights policy and Soviet Jewry issues, which was released today by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Herbert Kronish, chairman of the Conference, said, “Our organization does not endorse candidates for public office. However, with Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union at a virtual halt — only 1,314 Jews were allowed to leave the USSR in 1983, compared with more than 51,000 persons just five years ago — we feel it is important for people in our area to know where the candidates stand on issues that affect Soviet Jewry.”

Among the issues the candidates were asked to discuss, Kronish said, were the linkage of U.S. trade policy to human rights violations, the success or failure of the 1975 Helsinki Accords, and whether the problem of Soviet Jewish emigration should be raised at all bi-lateral discussions between the U.S. and the USSR.


Asked to discuss their positions on the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which the U.S. Congress enacted in 1974, and which calls for linking “most favored nation status” for the Soviet Union with emigration of Jews and other groups from the USSR, the candidates gave the following answers:

Hart: “I support the policy of linkage and maintenance of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. The principles of morality in foreign policy established by Section 402 of the Trade Act of 1974 are laudable goals.

“Effectively, the amendment makes the President responsible for personal involvement, through the certification requirement, in the human rights climate in non-market countries with which we as a nation do business. These trade relationships are important to the Eastern bloc economic well-being; through linkage, we tie their emigration and human rights practices directly to those economic interests, constructively emphasizing our real commitment to basic human values at home and overseas.”

Jackson: “If we could create an atmosphere of solution with regard to arms control and reduction, the Jackson-Vanik Amendment would be unnecessary. All questions of international relations are ‘linked.’ As the general environment of relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S. improves, this question will be easier to answer.”

Mondale: “I was proud to join with Senator Henry Jackson … to tie Soviet Jewish emigration to U.S. Soviet trade relations as an original co-sponsor of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and I continue to support it. ‘Most-favored nation’ status should not be accorded to a nation with as dismal a record in the human rights area as the Soviet Union has. Our policy enables us to put our support of the principle of human rights into practice, to show the world that we mean what we say, to remind human rights violators that their transgressions will be met by our reprisals.”


Asked whether the 1975 Helsinki Accords, which U.S. and European leaders hoped would provide certain guarantees on human rights in the Eastern Bloc countries, had proved to be a failure, the candidates replied:

Mondale: “The process behind the Accords resulting from the Helsinki Final Act has not failed. Continued discussion between the Soviet Union and the West is not only healthy, it is necessary. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union doesn’t seem to be willing to adhere to the principle of human rights and for this reason, international progress in the field of human rights has not been achieved to the extent desired.

“As President, then, I would institute regular summit meetings between the leadership of the U.S. and USSR, because it is always more dangerous not be talking and because no progress in human rights and the treatment of Soviet Jews can be made in the absence of dialogue. Consequently, we must continue to participate in follow-up conferences to the Helsinki Accords such as the Madrid Conference.”

Jackson: “Yes (Helsinki has been a failure). Because our relationship with the Soviet Union has deteriorated, and because we are without a platform for the relations between the two countries, we have no leverage with the Soviets.

“When the international environment is one which includes sincere attempts to dialogue with the Soviets, there is a more relaxed society with regard to human rights. As general discussions with the Soviets are advanced, they would become more responsive to the Helsinki Accords. It is one of the obligations of the United States to strongly pursue and advocate the issue of human rights.”

Hart: “The Soviet failure to comply should not be interpreted as a failure of the Helsinki process. If anything, it has allowed the U.S. and other countries to focus their attacks on Soviet human rights violations. Even bearing in mind the many obstacles facing attempts at assurance of compliance, we have to maintain vigilant efforts. As President I would use all the powers of that office to remind the Soviet leadership of our constant attention to this issue.

“The U.S. should continue to participate in follow-up conferences on the Helsinki Accords. Any perception on the part of the Soviets that we are inconsistent in our belief in the legitimacy of an international monitoring role will be a sign that the U.S. is not truly committed to basic human rights as a primary tenet of our foreign policy.”

Mondale said that as President, “I would reinforce our support of human rights principles by introducing the subject (of Soviet Jewish emigration) at all bilateral meetings between the U.S. and the USSR.”

Hart said, “I would call for a discussion on Soviet Jewish emigration issues and individual cases at all levels of official contact between the two governments, whenever appropriate.” Jackson said that the issue of Soviet Jewish emigration “should be raised within any broad-based discussion between the U.S. and the USSR.”

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