- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 23, 2000

Showing the flag

The windows are broken and the building is severely damaged from water. The U.S. Embassy in Yugoslavia is not even habitable.

Nevertheless, American diplomats this week raised the U.S. flag over the mission that was abandoned last year during the NATO bombing campaign to stop Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

"It was a very moving moment for me," William Montgomery, the top U.S. diplomat in Belgrade, told the Associated Press.

Mr. Montgomery, widely expected to be named ambassador, said the ceremony Tuesday marked the "formal end to a very difficult period."

The United States and Yugoslavia resumed diplomatic relations Nov. 17. Yugoslavia is expected soon to reopen its embassy in Washington, which ceased operations March 25, 1999.

Richard Miles, the former U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia and now ambassador to Bulgaria, raised the Stars and Stripes in a ceremony attended by about 20 people.

The embassy will be renovated in stages to repair damage from vandals who smashed most of the windows and painted swastikas and obscene messages on the walls.

Mr. Montgomery, who heads a U.S. bureau located in Hungary to promote democracy in Yugoslavia, said American diplomats will work out of the Belgrade Hyatt Hotel until the first segment opens, possibly before spring.

Still No. 1

Jacqueline Willis, Hong Kong's commissioner to the United States, is proud that her little corner of China is still rated the freest economy in the world.

"I am naturally delighted that our continuous efforts in upholding our economic and fiscal principles of providing maximum support with minimum intervention and our commitment to free enterprise, free trade and open competition are once again recognized," she said.

Hong Kong maintained its No. 1 spot in this year's Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, even though the editors predicted a year ago that the former British colony would slip because of Chinese government intervention in a stock market crisis in 1998.

"This raised concerns about the government's commitment to a free market," the report said.

However, "it remains the world's freest economy" three years after Britain turned over Hong Kong to a communist government that promised to protect its capitalist market.

The report expressed concerns about a decline in political rights that could affect the economy in the future.

"Since the handover, the rule of law in Hong Kong has been called into question by political interference in the operations of Hong Kong's independent judiciary," it said.

"Freedom of the press has been threatened by chilling warnings from mainland representatives about what types of news should not be published in Hong Kong."

Hong Kong has been ranked on top of the list since the index was first published in 1995. This year the index reviews 155 countries. North Korea is at the bottom of the list.

The index grades countries according to 10 criteria: banking and finance; wages and prices; property rights; trade policy; monetary policy; foreign investment; black-market activity; government regulations; government's fiscal burden; and government intervention in the economy.

Diplomatic honors

Sen. Richard G. Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn will be honored for their efforts to reduce international conflicts when the American Academy of Diplomacy holds its annual awards dinner next month.

Mr. Lugar, Indiana Republican, and Mr. Nunn, Georgia Democrat, will receive the Excellence in Diplomacy Award for their Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

The academy will also recognize Herman J. Cohen, a former assistant secretary of state, for his book, "Intervening in Africa: Superpower Peacemaking in a Troubled Continent," and William H. Gleysteen Jr. for his book, "Massive Entanglement, Marginal Influence: Carter and Korea in Crisis."

The awards will be presented at a Dec. 6 luncheon for invited guests at the State Department.

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