Madrid meeting on human rights icy over Poland
Martial law in Poland virtually guarantees that the European Security and Cooperation Conference will reopen here today in a cold-war atmosphere of mutual accusations.
Although as a result East and West are unlikely to find any common ground, the Western nations have started moving closer together to align their Polish strategy.
Before arriving in Madrid, NATO member countries had not yet reached an agreement over an eventual suspension of the security conference in a last-minute meeting held in Brussels on Feb. 5.
In contrast to the Americans who have been pushing for an adjournment of the security conference until next fall unless martial law is lifted in Poland, the ''European thesis,'' or at least part of the European delegation, had opted for saving the conference.
Some of the European countries, such as Belgium, West Germany, and France, feel that the conference need not be suspended over the Poland issue. They believe the conference is worth maintaining as the only East-West forum available for dialogue.
The Madrid meeting is an outgrowth of the 1975 Helsinki Accords signed by the Soviet Union and 34 other nations, which set standards of human rights.
While the US insists on condemning the Soviet Union for its attitude toward the Polish situation, the Soviet Union refuses to even accept the thorny Polish issue on the conference agenda. In the words of Leonid Ilyichov, the head of the Soviet delegation and deputy minister for foreign affairs, discussion of Poland is an ''unprecedented interference.''
Without referring specifically to the US, Mr. Ilyichov spoke of ''bellicose forces that wish to set up barriers in the road toward European security.'' Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr., who heads the American delegation, declared that ''it is essential that all dignitaries of the Helsinki pact study the Polish situation which constitutes a fatal threat to the Helsinki process.''
The Polish delegation head, Josef Wiejacz, also refused to be seated in the ''accused bench'' and expressed indignation that some states ''are trying to introduce our internal affairs in the conference, which is incompatible with the nonintervention principle subscribed to in the final act of the Helsinki agreement.''
By a procedural quirk, Poland will preside over the 100th session of the security conference, but as of this writing there was still no agreement over the order of the day nor the agenda to follow.
Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Leo Tindemans was expected to speak today in the name of European Community countries to denounce the violation of human rights by Moscow and the military regime in Warsaw.
With the current atmosphere soured by Poland, no progress on other human-rights issues or on disarmament is expected. There is a possibility, as a result, that after the speeches of the 15 Western-bloc foreign ministers, the conference might be suspended at the instigation of one or more nonaligned or neutral countries.