Don't Send the Wrong Message to Romania

The opinion-page column ``Will Romania Erupt?,'' Dec. 18, says that the US should grant Romania most-favored nation (MFN) status to support reforms. Unfortunately, the facts refute the view that democracy is burgeoning in Romania. The press is censored, protesters are jailed, the secret police are still active, the judiciary is not independent, and national minorities, including the large Hungarian minority, are still harassed and subject to state-sponsored discrimination. The most recent example of ongoing human rights abuses is the motion introduced in Parliament by Senator Vasile Vacaru, Senate leader of the National Salvation Front, calling for criminal proceedings against the Rev. Laszlo Tokes and Andras Suto. The alleged crimes of Tokes, also known as the father of the Romanian revolution, and of the renowned author Suto, victim of a severe beating during violence directed against Hungarians in Tirgu Mures last March, are ``slandering the state.'' In fact, both have been outspoken champions of democracy and ethnic reconciliation. Granting Romania MFN status under these circumstances would send the wrong message to the Romanian people and compound past errors, when the US routinely granted trade concessions to the Ceausescu regime. Grass-roots human rights groups in Romania, such as the Civic Alliance, have called upon the US to withhold MFN until international human rights standards are fully respected by the government. Accordingly, MFN should be granted only when the Romanian government demonstrates a commitment to democracy, protects the rights of all Romanian citizens, and rectifies prior transgressions against that country's national minorities.

Frank Koszorus, Jr., Washington, International Human Rights Law Group

Anglo-Irish Accord Regarding the editorial ``A Still Useful Accord,'' Nov. 15: The Anglo-Irish Accord was a deft and successful move by the British government to solve their ``Irish problem.'' It involved the rest of the world by enlisting financial assistance for floundering Northern Ireland. The US became the largest financial supporter of the Anglo-Irish Accord.

Our government cannot afford to support the dissension in Northern Ireland, but it also has a very large Irish population that demands action in Northern Ireland. The support of the Anglo-Irish Accord is an attempt to remain isolated from the issue and still help Northern Ireland.

The Anglo-Irish Accord is a sure sign of improvement in Northern Ireland and should be supported. It is a good effort on the part of the British to improve the situation.

Trenton D. Eckhardt, Seattle

Arms reduction at home and abroad The editorial ``Arms Reduction Still Crucial,'' Dec. 18, appeared the same day as a front-page article about the rising murder rate in the US. How can we expect to reduce weapons internationally when we cannot seem to control weapons domestically?

Elizabeth B. Helmer, Ithaca, N.Y.

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