- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2001

That sinking feeling
Slovenia's decision to declare independence from Yugoslavia was easy, said Slovenian Ambassador Davorin Kracun.
"It was like the Titanic. The country was sinking and the process was irreversible," he said. "We just wanted out."
"For Slovenia, it was quite an obvious choice to join the community of Western nations," he told Embassy Row over a recent lunch, as he reviewed his nation's 10 years of freedom from communism.
Slovenia declared independence in June 1991 and fought a 10-day war against the Yugoslav army, which withdrew after facing tough Slovenian resistance.
"Yugoslavia was an artificial creation," he said.
Now Slovenia's main goal is gaining admission to the European Union.
"Slovenia is the most developed of all of the candidate countries," he said of the 10 nations seeking to join the European Union by 2004.
Slovenia has averaged a 4 percent to 5 percent annual growth rate since 1993, and unemployment is at 6.9 percent, lower than some of the 15 nations already in the European Union.
Mr. Kracun is responsible for much of that economic success. He served as planning minister in 1992 and economic minister from 1993 to 1995.
Mr. Kracun, who taught economics between government service, said he viewed the European Union as a community of nations, not "a European super-state."
Reviewing developments in his troubled Balkan neighborhood, Mr. Kracun said Yugoslavia's main achievement was getting rid of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian strongman who waged war throughout the region in the 1990s. Mr. Milosevic now is facing war crimes charges in The Hague.
Mr. Kracun called on the "international community to find a solution" for Macedonia, under siege from ethnic Albanian rebels. Croatia is "making progress toward Westernization," he said.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, he said, will continue to need the presence of NATO peacekeepers for some time, as Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims struggle to work together in a fragile governing system.
Mr. Kracun, 50, is also a former foreign minister. He has been ambassador here since May 2000.

German friendship
Forget all that clamor from European critics of the Bush administration. Germany, for one, loves the United States.
That is the message German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger delivered yesterday when he presented his diplomatic credentials to President Bush.
"We Germans feel a particular attachment to the United States, not only through the friendship linking our peoples but also through our partnership in the North Atlantic alliance and, above all, through our shared values and interests," Mr. Ischinger said.
He also managed to deliver a message from Germany's socialist government on missiles and global warming.
"Together we Europeans and Americans have achieved a great deal," he said. "And together we are facing old and new global questions, for instance on disarmament and joint endeavors to counter the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, particularly by strengthening the relevant international arms control regimes, and on climate protection."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has expressed his displeasure with Mr. Bush's support for a national missile defense and rejection of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.
Mr. Ischinger, however, emphasized primarily the positive in U.S.-German relations.
"Mr. President," he said, "our common agenda is today denser and broader than ever before. The alliance's highest political goal — a just and lasting order of peace for the whole of Europe — is within reach."

To the Senate
The White House yesterday sent six ambassadorial nominations to the Senate for confirmation hearings.
The nominees include: career diplomats Brian E. Carlson for Latvia; Mattie Sharpless for the Central African Republic; Martin J. Silverstein for Uruguay; and R. Barrie Walkley for Guinea.
Two nominees are political appointments. They are Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, who served on President Bush's campaign finance committee, for Finland, and John N. Palmer, who served as a trade adviser in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, for Portugal.

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