- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2000

Diplomatic rarity

The ambassador from Cyprus has become the second female ambassador in recent weeks to be recognized for her efforts to advance the status of women in diplomacy.

Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis called the existence of female ambassadors a "rather recent phenomenon" when she received LaSalle University's President's Medal in Philadelphia last month.

Washington's Howard University, also last month, named Macedonia Ambassador Lubica Acevska ambassador of the year for her support of its Women Ambassadors' Program.

Mrs. Kozakou-Marcoullis, who spoke on a panel on women in politics and diplomacy, said she regretted that such forums were still necessary.

"I have been personally dealing with women's issues for the past 20 years, and we all find ourselves still struggling to achieve equality," she said.

"I admit that I find it disheartening to realize that we still need events like this one to bring to the fore the fact that women in leadership and decision-making positions, be it in politics or diplomacy, remain, shamefully, a minority worldwide."

The equality of the sexes is a fundamental principle of democratic societies, she added.

"For what else than defending justice and democracy is the struggle for gender equality?" she asked.

Mrs. Kozakou-Marcoullis said Cyprus is moving quickly to a goal of equal representation of women in diplomatic missions. Women make up 20 percent of Cyprus' ambassadors.

"Although women diplomats and especially women ambassadors is a rather recent phenomenon of the past few decades worldwide, women diplomats have solidly established themselves as equal partners with their male colleagues and have won respect and trust for their achievements," she said.

Nevertheless, women still have far to go.

"Why do we still see so few women in leadership positions the world over? Why are women still paid less than men for work of equal value in many parts of the world?" she asked.

"Why do women still make up the majority of the world's illiterate and poor? Why do women still make up the majority of the victims of violence [and] why are women and children still the predominant victims of armed conflict in many regions?"

"These are questions that need to be answered and issues that need to be resolved if we are talking about democracy and building democratic institutions," she said.

Mrs. Kozakou-Marcoullis and Miss Acevska are among 12 women in Washington's diplomatic corps of 172 ambassadors.

Friendship diplomacy

The ambassador of Bahrain is one of the top practitioners of the diplomacy of friendship.

Ambassador Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar never misses an opportunity to emphasize the close ties between his Persian Gulf country and the United States.

He hosted an embassy reception this week for Gen. Anthony G. Zinni, head of the U.S. Central Command, which covers the Gulf area. Gen. Zinni is retiring in July.

The ambassador said he regretted that the Gulf War coalition has "unraveled," but is proud that the cooperation between the United States and the Arab countries in the Gulf has resulted in "successful security arrangements against external threats."

"Our objective must combine a sustainable security strategy with a sustainable economic development strategy," he said.

Gen. Zinni spoke fondly of his time in Bahrain, but noted that the American military needs to develop a better understanding of foreign cultures.

"Oftentimes, we lack an understanding of the culture, the people, the issues and differences," he said.

Envoy for democracy

Timothy Cooper, international director of the Free China Movement, has taken on the symbolic role of "ambassador at large" for the outlawed Chinese political party.

"His work on behalf of the Free China Movement has been extraordinary," said Wang Xizhe, a co-chairman of the party, who is living in exile in the United States and teaching at Harvard University.

Mr. Cooper has been lobbying Congress to reject efforts to grant permanent normal trade status for China.

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