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Hungary Likely To Accede to U.N. Convention on Refugees With AM-Hungary, Bjt

February 11, 1989

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Communist Hungary is likely to accede to the 1951 U.N. Convention on the Status of Refugees, a United Nations official said Friday. It is believed it would be the first Soviet bloc country to join the accord.

Ghassan Arnaout, from the Geneva-based U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, spoke at a news conference after a five-day tour of Hungary and its camps for refugees from Romania.

He said his group asked Hungary to become a party to the 1951 accord and ″I think there is a definite, good, genuine will of Hungary to accede to the convention.″ Asked when, he said only, ″Soon, in the coming months.″

An estimated 30,000 Romanian citizens, most of them ethnic Hungarians, fled illegally across the border or declined to return home from tourist trips since Hungary took the unprecedented step last year of refusing to force such people back to Romania.

Hungary says Romania is mistreating its 1.7 million ethnic Hungarians, preventing them from studying their language and customs. Warsaw Pact ally Romania rejects the charges, accusing Budapest of meddling in its affairs.

Economically strapped Hungary would welcome international aid in looking after the people fleeing from Romania and in resettling them here or elsewhere. Arnaout quoted Western diplomats as saying Hungary might be reluctant to accede to the convention if it ran the risk of becoming a haven for refugees from other communist nations, such as Czechoslovakia and East Germanuy.

He said this matter was not raised during his group’s discussions with officials.

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