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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2361


Senator Greenwood asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(   1 ) Did Mr V. Bukevicius, President of the Council of the Lithuanian Community in Australia ask the Prime Minister, by letter, dated 28 April 1974, what was his policy regarding the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

(2)   Did Mr Bukevicius specifically ask if Mr Whitlam, as head of the Australian Government, was going 'to continue not to recognise the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union or should we expect a policy change on this matter'.

(3)   Was Mr Bukevicius correct in his assumption that Australia did not at the time of his writing to the Prime Minister recognise the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

(4)   What reply did the Prime Minister give to Mr Bukevicius.

(5)   Did the Prime Minister indicate that Mr Bukevicius should expect a policy change on the matter; if not, why not.


Senator Murphy - The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1   ) On 28 April 1 974 Mr V. Bukevicius wrote to me as follows:

Sir,

As the President of the Council of the Lithuanian Community in Australia I have forwarded to you a letter on 8 February 1973.I have received acknowledgment from your private secretary butI still do not have your reply.

The Lithuanian Community in Australia is very anxious to have a clear statement from you as the Head of the Australian Government on two questions:

(1)   What is your Government 's policy regarding the Baltic States- Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia- are you going to continue not to recognise the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union or should we expect a policy change on this matter?

(ii)   Will your Government take any necessary action in the United Nations to ensure that the basic principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights freedom, justice and peace would be applied to our native country Lithuania and other Baltic States?

Your early reply would be most appreciated.

Yours respectfully, (Sgd) V. BUKEVICIUS

(2)   See(l).

(3)   At that time Australia gave de facto recognition to the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union.

(4)   On 17 May the Hon. Kep Enderby signed a reply on my behalf in the following terms:

Dear Mr Bukevicius,

I refer to your letter of 28 April 1974 concerning the Government's attitude towards Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The policy of the present Australian Government is that while not formally recognising the incorporation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into the Soviet Union, it must be cognisant of the de facto situation and deal with the government which has effective control of the territory in question. This was also the attitude taken by all of our predecessors on this matter.

On a number of occasions the Government has made its views known on the question of civil liberties and on fundamental human rights, its own adherence to them and its wish that those rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be extended everywhere.

In an address at the United Nations Association on the occasion of Australia's celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration, I said, inter alia, '. . . the Declaration has come to be recognised as one of the enlightened events in modern history' and that'. . . it is a fundamental objective of the Labor Government to ensure that Australia's policies are soundly based on respect for. and on the protection and enhancement or civil liberties and basic human rights'. The Soviet Government is aware of the Australian Government's position in this matter, and we will continue to seek opportunities in the United Nations to promote respect for and observance of basic human rights by all members.

Yours sincerely, (Sgd) Kep EN DERBY.

(5)   No, since a decision to review the policy had not at that stage been taken.







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