- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 25, 2010

MORNING IN MOLDOVA

The ancient Eastern European nation of Moldova was buffeted throughout its long history, repeatedly invaded by Goths, Huns, Mongols and Romans, and later coveted by Ottoman Turks, Nazis and the Soviet Union.

Its latest declaration of independence in 1991 compounded its fate, as home-grown communists won elections that failed international democratic standards and restless residents of the Transdniester region in the east declared independence.

In Washington, Moldova was usually an afterthought in U.S. foreign policy. However, Moldova’s status changed dramatically this month when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recognized democratic progress in the Balkans nation of 4 million people, as they prepare for another set of parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Moldovan Ambassador Igor Munteanu praised a committee resolution adopted by the full Senate as a sign that Congress approves of the new coalition government that replaced one dominated by communists.

** FILE ** Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat (Associated Press)
** FILE ** Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat (Associated Press) more >

“In 2009, a [congressional] resolution asked Moldova to just hold a fair election, but this year [the resolution] encourages [Moldova] to continue the democratic reforms, thus accepting the fact that Moldova has transformed itself over the past year,” he said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The Party of Communists won disputed elections in April but failed to elect a president, as required by Moldovan law. A four-party coalition called the Alliance for Europe, which supports membership in the European Union, defeated the communists in elections in July but also failed to agree upon a president, forcing the Sunday parliamentary elections.

Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,expressed hope that the latest elections will produce a stable government.

“The people and the government of Moldova have overcome a daunting set of economic and political challenges,” said the Massachusetts Democrat. “The success of these elections is important, not only for Moldova, but for the region as a whole.”

Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the senior Republican on the committee, added that the resolution “reaffirms the United States Senate’s support for political reform and fair democratic processes with our partners in Moldova and recognizes the important steps Moldova has recently made towards European integration.”

ACTORS FOR AFRICA

First came George Clooney lobbying for peace in Darfur. Now Ben Affleck is taking up the cause of millions of victims of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The actors for Africa know how to get attention in Washington, where Mr. Clooney has used his star power since 2006 to campaign for the black victims of Arab violence in the troubled Darfur region of western Sudan.

Mr. Affleck founded the Eastern Congo Initiative in March and is due in Washington on Tuesday to appear on a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The situation in eastern Congo has been neglected for far too long. It is one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in the world,” Mr. Affleck said, after announcing the Congo project.

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