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■4133 21 September 1980


The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrew Peacock, said today that any attempt by the Soviet Union to launch a military intervention into Poland would constitute a grave threat to international peace.

Mr Peacock was commenting on reports of recent Soviet military deployments near the borders of Poland. He confirmed his understanding that there had been some recent developments in Soviet military dispositions in the area. It was not possible to be precise about either the nature or the implications of these developments, but jthere was good reason to believe that they were compatible with the Soviet Union's concerns about what was occurring in Poland.

Mr Peacock said that the Australian Government was monitoring the situation closely, and that during his forthcoming visit to the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly,questions of European security would be among those important issues which he

expected to discuss with representatives of other Governments including the United States Secretary of State, Mr Muskie.

Mr Peacock said that the Soviet Union's record of using force to impose its will in Berlin, in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia and most recently in Afghanistan naturally gave all in the free world sound cause to be extremely wary of any possible recurrence. The prospects for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to commence in Madrid in November, had already been seriously affected by Soviet intervention

in Afghanistan and any lack of restraint by the Soviet Union in its European dealings would put at risk the significance of that conference as it affected peace and security in Europe.

Mr Peacock said that he had no doubt that the Soviet Union was seriously disturbed by events in Poland, even though the Polish people were doing little more than to claim the rights and freedoms accorded them by the spirit and letter of the Helsinki Final Act and the other international conventions to which the Soviet. Union was a

signatory. !

Mr Peacock said that the dignified and courageous attempts by Poland's workers to secure their recently negotiated gains deserved international admiration. It was now imperative that the people of Poland - the workers and those in authority - be allowed to resolve

their current difficulties in their own way without coercion or external pressure.