President Carter reported to Congress yesterday that the Communist nations of Europe (have not fundamentally altered their policies on juman contacts" in the last half year.
Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance testified that the record is mixed in such fields as freer travel, access to information, reuniting divided families, the right to emigrate and other exchanges across the East-West divide.
In some categories there has been "some slight movement forward," but in other areas, Vance said, "a retrogression." What is important, Vance said, is that "a process has been started" to measure performance under the 35-nation Helsinki accord of 1975, and "I think one most judge this in th long run, and over a period of years."
The Carter administration, with its intensified pressure for honoring human rights, is headed into its first across-the-board international test in this area. On June 15, a meeting opens in Belgrade, to prepare for the first review of the Helsinki agreement, probably in early October.
A major question is whether this will bring open collision with the Soviet Union and its Communist allies. The Soviet Union is engaged in a major crackdown on its dissidents who have been monitoring Soviet compliance with the Helsinki agreement. The family of one leading dissident, Anatoly Scharansky, has been told he will be tried for treason.
Vance yesterday told the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, composed of Senate, House and executive branch memebers, that is Belgrade "we must not be diverted from assessment of how fully the specific undertakings of Helsinki have been carried out by all the signatories.
Sen. Clifford P. Case (R-N.J.) said he does not see how "a confrontation" can be avoided. Case said, however, "I see no spirit yet for the kind of knockdown, drag-out confrontation that I think is needed now."
The United States, Vance said, has made its concern clear to the Soviet Union about the Scharansky case. he also said, "We have said there was no truth to the allegation that he was involved with the CIA."
Patt Derian, State Department coordinator for human rights, told the National Democratic Forum here yesterday that if the Soviet Union conducts a public trial for Scharansky, charging him with being an agent of the United States, "I think it will be a very serious matter" for the Belgrade conference.
That would indicate, she said, that the Soviet "will have decided they cannot pursue their normal routine" at the conference, and seek "to discredit the American initiative on human rights."
U.S. Ambassador Albert W. Sherer, who will head the American delegation at the June 15 meeting, said all indications are that the Soviets want to strees "the political concept" at Belgrade, rather than human rights. The Soviet Union regards the main Helsinki accomplishment as confirmation of the post-WOrld War II borders, dividing East and West.
President Carter's 93-page report to the commission, headed by Rep. Dante B. Fascell, said the Communist nations have made "token and selective implementation" of the human rights sections of the Helsinki accord.
Among other conclusions, the report said that resolving "diveded family cases continued to be slow and often frustrating endeavor." It found that "working conditions for Western journalists in Eastern Europe deteriorated during the reporting period" and the supply of "useful economic and commercial information by the East did not improve and, in some cases, even worsened."
By contrast, the report said, there was "notable progress" in carrying out arrangements for exchanges in "culture and education . . ."
Issuance of exit visas to Soviet Jews bound for Israel increased in the last quarter of 1976 to a yearly total of "over 14,000," which "halted the decline of the previous two years," but "Jewish emigration remained far below levels reached in 1972-73." In 1972 there were 31,500 Soviet Jewish exit visas for Israel; in 1973 the figure was 35,000. The report said "early 1977 figures have thus far shown approximately the same Jewish emigration rate as in 1976."
Soviet emigration to the United States in 1976 reached a total of 2,574 persons, "more than double the 1975 figure," the report stated, but much of that was emigration of ethnic Armenians who in the past emigrateto Lebanon.