- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hungarian ‘maturity’

The Hungarian ambassador interpreted this week’s election as a sign of “democratic maturity” in his nation, as the ruling Socialist-led coalition became the first government to win re-election since the end of communism in 1989.

“This reflects confidence in the future of our nation,” Ambassador Andras Simonyi told Embassy Row.

In the election on Sunday, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany increased his coalition’s strength in the 386-member parliament to 210 seats from 198 and promised a “better, more successful Hungary.” The country has one of the biggest budget deficits in the European Union.

Mr. Simonyi noted that Hungarian voters changed governments in every previous election.

“While during the first years of freedom our progress in democratization was measured by the replacement of the respective coalitions by the opposition parties every four years, the Hungarian people’s decision to allow this government to continue is now a sign of our democratic maturity,” he said.

Mr. Simonyi predicted that the government “will work toward creating a truly competitive, more outward-looking society and economy that will strive to benefit from globalization.”

He also pledged that Hungary will continue to be a reliable U.S. ally.

“We have sought to be America’s friend and ally in good times and bad, and this policy has been justified by this election,” the ambassador added.

“We will continue to work with the U.S. to face the challenges of our times, be it terrorism, helping others build democratic institutions or achieving energy security.”

‘Evil, twisted vision’

The latest message from Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden displays an “evil, twisted vision for humanity,” the Saudi ambassador said this week.

“He urges violence, when the world desires peace,” Ambassador Prince Turki al-Faisal said this week at Columbia University in New York.

“He aims for incitement, when the world calls for tolerance. He promotes confusion, when the world demands understanding,” he said.

Prince Turki, who frequently has called bin Laden an enemy of Islam as well as the West, said the leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network “does not speak for Muslims.”

“If we look at his latest message to the world, it reminds us, once again, that his is an evil, twisted vision for humanity,” the ambassador said, referring to the bin Laden videotape broadcast Sunday.

“Bin Laden’s ideology is one of hate in which everyone is a target. Nothing is sacred to this man — not age, not race, not religion. Al Qaeda will attack a Christian, Jew or Muslim without distinction. They care only to spread chaos.”

He accused bin Laden of corrupting Islam and creating a “cult that is a perversion of a benevolent and peaceful faith.”

Prince Turki reminded his audience at the university’s School of Public and International Affairs that the Saudi royal family also is a target of bin Laden, who has unleashed several bomb attacks across Saudi Arabia.

Kazakh charity

Kazakhstan this week donated $50,000 to two schools in Louisiana to help them rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

“The Kazakhs have a saying: ‘There is no such thing as somebody else’s disaster,’ ” said Ambassador Kanat Saudabayev, as he presented checks of $25,000 each to the St. Bernard Unified School in Chalmette and the Ursuline Academy in New Orleans.

Rep. Charlie Melancon said St. Bernard Parish often has been overlooked in the disaster-relief efforts.

“Kazakhstan is quickly becoming one of Louisiana’s great international friends, and this support for the children of Saint Bernard only strengthens that relationship,” said the Louisiana Democrat at the check-presentation ceremony in the state capital, Baton Rouge.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco also expressed gratitude for Kazakhstan’s generosity.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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