World Giving Human Rights More Respect, Shultz Reports
Secretary of State George P. Shultz, marking the end of his diplomatic career, said Tuesday that the world is “entering a period in which respect for human rights is gaining ground” although some Marxist governments, such as Czechoslovakia’s and East Germany’s, are lagging behind the Soviet Union.
In a speech and a press conference at the final session of the two-year-old Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Shultz praised Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev for “strong and creative” changes in the Soviet Union that have not been matched by some of Moscow’s East European allies.
“We welcome progress today in Hungary, Poland and the Soviet Union and hope to see more,” Shultz said. “Yet we regret the timidity of the German Democratic Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia in not taking similar steps.”
Shultz was sharply critical of Czechoslovakia and East Germany for breaking up weekend demonstrations.
Water Cannon Again Used
“Only Sunday, just one hour after the adoption of the Vienna Concluding Document, and in direct violation of the commitment just solemnly given by the government of Czechoslovakia, riot police trained rubber truncheons, tear gas and water cannon on participants in a peaceful demonstration in Prague,” he said. “The same day . . . we’re told, the authorities of the German Democratic Republic detained 190 rights advocates demonstrating peacefully in Leipzig.”
Police on Tuesday again used water cannon to disperse people in Prague’s Wenceslas Square, although no demonstration was taking place, according to reports from the Czech capital. Witnesses said that except for several hundred young people, most of those in the square appeared to be individuals engaged in normal daily activities. The police action appeared to be part of a massive security operation to preempt further disturbances in the city.
The weekend Prague demonstrations were held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the suicide of a student who set himself on fire to protest the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia that crushed the country’s reform movement.
Although Shultz emphasized that the Soviet Union falls short of Western ideals of human rights, he had much more praise than criticism for Gorbachev and his policy of glasnost , or openness.
A senior State Department official said a ranking Soviet official had told him that Moscow will continue its human rights dialogue with the incoming Administration of President-elect Bush.
The official said he has been told that Moscow will soon permit 20 more longtime refuseniks to leave the country. He said the Soviet Union seems genuinely concerned about refurbishing its international image.
The Vienna conference, which opened Nov. 4, 1986, set the stage for a new round of East-West talks on the numbers of tanks, artillery and other non-nuclear weapons and established new standards for human rights, including, for the first time, a provision allowing any state represented at the 35-nation conference to formally protest human rights abuses in any of the others.
Shultz said that the Vienna session, a follow-up meeting to the 1975 Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, paved the way to “an ever more free, prosperous and secure Europe.”
The United States and Canada, which have fought in two European wars in this century, are full participants in the conference, which also includes all the nations of Europe except Albania.