199. Memorandum From the Ambassador at Large (Goldberg) to President Carter1


  • Visit of Romanian President Ceausescu

This memorandum, requested by the White House, is designed as a talking paper, relating to CSCE and the Belgrade meeting, to supplement the memorandum submitted by the Secretary of State to the President.2


The Romanians at Belgrade were notably silent about the subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms (Principle VII of the Final Act). This is scarcely surprising in light of the fact that, although they [Page 617] pursue a somewhat independent foreign policy, they are most repressive at home. Their lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms follows a Stalinist pattern.

Although acknowledging Romania’s independent stand on some foreign policy issues, I, nevertheless, pointed out aspects of Romania’s shortcomings with respect to human rights in the course of one of my interventions at the Belgrade meeting. It is interesting that the Romanians did not reply to this criticism. But it is also interesting to note that at no point did they attempt to defend the manifold shortcomings of the Soviet Union in the human rights area.


With respect to the humanitarian provisions of the Final Act (Basket III), Romania has a mixed record of compliance.

The Romanians have permitted substantial emigration (several hundred thousands) of Jews from Romania since World War II. However, during the period of April 1977 to March 1978, emigrants declined 14% from the comparable period of the preceeding year (1559–1345). There are only 50,000 Jews remaining in Romania and the government says those still there are largely old, infirm and unwilling to leave. Jewish sources say that the decline is due to formidable bureaucratic obstacles making it extremely difficult for Jews and, for that matter, anyone else to emigrate.

The Chief Rabbi of Romania, Rabbi Rosen, asserts that Romanian Jews are permitted a reasonable degree of freedom to exercise their religious beliefs. Without in any way denigrating Rabbi Rosen, a distinguished clergyman and fine humanitarian, there is substantial evidence to the contrary. The great exodus of Jews proves that there was and is no future for them in Romania. Moreover, Baptists have provided convincing documentation of religious persecution of a sweeping character, and the same is true of other Christian denominations.

A substantial Hungarian minority group likewise has publicized through Western media large-scale ethnic repression. The principal source for this information is surprisingly a prominent leader of the Romanian Communist Party, albeit of Hungarian origin.

Romania has the highest unsettled number of binational marriage cases with the U.S. of any country in Eastern Europe, even though there has been some reduction in those outstanding during 1977 as contrasted with 1976 (71 to 54). Settlement of family reunification cases with the United States has improved somewhat in the last year (21% increase over 1976), but Romanian procedures on emigration cases generally have not improved as a result of CSCE.

I would believe it entirely appropriate that the President raise these human rights issues with President Ceausescu, both on the merits and in light of Romania’s professions of fidelity to the Helsinki Final Act.

[Page 618]


As did many of the smaller nations at CSCE, the Romanians saw in confidence building measures a means of enhancing their own security vis-a-vis the larger powers surrounding them, particularly the Soviet Union. The Romanians tabled a CBMs resolution which included proposals for notification of major military movements, air and naval maneuvers, banning of multinational maneuvers near borders, and banning the establishment of new nuclear sites. The Romanians noted to us in general terms that they were putting forward many CSCE ideas as trial balloons.

They recognized that some of their proposals were the subject of negotiation in other fora, the U.N. Special Session on Disarmament, the Geneva and Vienna negotiations, SALT, etc. However, the Soviet refusal after the New Year to discuss security issues other than in their proposed “special joint consultations” which commanded no support, made any discussion academic. The Romanians have made it clear that the Soviets, and not the Allies, are to blame for any lack of progress in the CBMs field. They also viewed the Allied CBMs resolution, which emphasized improvement of the Helsinki CBMs, as evidence of an Alliance commitment to moving forward in a realistic fashion.

If President Ceausescu raises CBMs, the President might assure him of our continuing commitment to CBMs for the next CSCE Conference. I would caution, however, that the Romanians were in favor of a post-Belgrade CBMs working group. We viewed that possibility unfavorably as it would have institutionalized CSCE between the conferences in a field where the Soviets would have made proposals useful only for the propaganda value to them.

Further, our NATO Allies were also cool to the Romanian proposal. To include provision for such a working group without equivalent substance in other important areas, such as human rights, would produce a seriously unbalanced document. The U.S. pointed out that since no agreement in principle had been achieved on any of the substantive security measures discussed in Belgrade, there was no basis for work by experts on CBM matters. It also warned that parcelling out work to experts groups where substantive argument was stymied could threaten the coherence of the CSCE process. In any event, as I have mentioned, the Soviets denied consensus to the Romanian and similar proposals offered by the Yugoslavs, Sweden and others.


The Romanians argued vigorously for a firm commitment to ensure perpetuity for the CSCE process (periodicity). Again, the Soviets denied consensus. We were able to negotiate a satisfactory compromise incorporated in the concluding document. The next Belgrade-type meeting [Page 619] will take place in Madrid in 1980. Also, the concluding document calls for further meetings thereafter and reaffirms a unanimous commitment to the CSCE process. The language would seem to meet Romanian concerns about periodicity.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, VIP Visit File, Box 12, Romania, President Ceausescu, 4/12–13/78: Cables and Memos, 4/11–22/78. No classification marking. In an April 10 covering memorandum forwarding the Goldberg memorandum to Brzezinski, King noted that Joyce Starr, the NSC Staff member who handled human rights questions for White House Counsel Robert Lipschutz had requested the memorandum, since the Department of State’s HA bureau was dissatisfied with the coverage of human rights issues in Vance’s briefing memorandum. King explained: “Starr was asked by HA to ask Goldberg for such a memo to circumvent the State Department consensus.” King recommended against forwarding the memorandum to Carter; Inderfurth concurred, adding “particularly since you are forwarding the Rauta memo.” Brzezinski disapproved King’s recommendation. (Ibid.)
  2. See Document 198. On April 11, Vance sent a separate memorandum to the President specifically on human rights. The memorandum, summarizing the decisions made by Christopher on April 8 (see Document 196), briefed the President on the Hungarian minority issue in Romania, the Rauta case, and the Romanian loans from the World Bank. Vance suggested that he raise these issues directly with Andrei, and that Carter tell Ceausescu he had asked Vance to do so. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, VIP Visit File, Box 12, Romania, President Ceausescu, 4/12–13/78: Cables and Memos, 4/11–22/78)