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George H.W. Bush Administration: Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Emigration of Soviet Jews

(March 27, 1990)

The United States has long championed the right to emigrate from the Soviet Union and has welcomed Soviet decisions enabling greater numbers of Soviet citizens to choose to leave. That many Soviet Jews are going to Israel is a historic event. The President is disappointed, therefore, at the unfortunate developments of recent days which have had the effect of severely limiting the passage out of the U.S.S.R. of large numbers of Soviet Jews heading to Israel via Hungary. Especially disturbing is the decision by the Hungarian airline Malev -- citing terrorist threats -- to restrict travel opportunities for Soviet Jews.

The Polish Government has expressed its willingness to consider expanding transit for Soviet Jews through Poland. We applaud such a resolute approach and call upon other nations, particularly in Eastern Europe, to do the same. We urge Hungary's airline to reconsider its position. We also urge the Soviet Union once again to implement the agreement with Israel for direct flights.

Sources: Public Papers of the President