- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2000

Change in Croatia

The election that drove his party from power will end his diplomatic career for now, but Croatian Ambassador Miomir Zuzul believes the results are good for his country.

Mr. Zuzul, ambassador here since 1996, realizes that Western critics viewed the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) as an authoritarian party that held back Croatia’s political progress, although he disagrees with that assessment.

He told Embassy Row yesterday that his party and its late leader, President Franjo Tudjman, deserve credit for achieving Croatian independence from Yugoslavia and adopting a democratic system.

Final election results showed Tuesday that the HDZ lost control of parliament to a center-left coalition of Social Democrats and Social Liberals. An election to replace Mr. Tudjman, who died last month, will be held Jan. 24.

Mr. Zuzul said the parliamentary election results were “probably good for Croatia.”

“The Croatian people showed a level of maturity in the development of democracy. Croatia deserves a very good grade,” he said.

“We needed some kind of new blood,” he added. “It became quite obvious that my party although it should get the most credit for the development of Croatia and democracy could not fulfill the remaining goals of the Croatian people.”

The United States welcomed the election results.

“The successful conduct of these elections and the prospect of a peaceful and orderly transfer of power from one freely elected government to another is a major step in the consolidation of democracy in Croatia and a major contribution to the development of democracy in the region as a whole,” State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said Tuesday.

Mr. Zuzul, a political appointee of Mr. Tudjman’s, knows his diplomatic career is over as long as the opposition remains in power.

“Certainly I will be replaced,” he said.

During his four years in Washington, Mr. Zuzul struggled against critics, including Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, who accused Croatia of moving too slowly toward a Western political and economic system. He believes critics made more demands on Croatia than on other developing democracies.

Nevertheless he considers his tour of duty here a success, especially in his efforts to attract U.S. business to Croatia. Today the United States is the largest foreign investor, with $1 billion in business enterprises.

“Four years ago, the United States was No. 28,” he said.

Cold War mentality?

Liu Xiaoming, deputy chief of mission, also wondered why many Americans see China as a threat, although he said his country has no aggressive or expansionist goals.

Mr. Liu, speaking to an audience in New York Tuesday night, insisted that world peace depends on a close relationship between the United States and China.

“A secure, peaceful and prosperous world requires that China and the United States maintain a sound and stable and steadily growing relationship,” he said.

But he warned of a “war of great consequences” if Taiwan declared independence.

Mr. Liu also criticized Congress for pursuing an investigation of scientist Wen Ho Lee, suspected of turning over nuclear secrets to China. He has been indicted on 59 counts of illegally removing nuclear secrets from the Los Alamos, N.M., weapons laboratory, although he has not been charged with espionage.

“This witch hunt … is a reflection of Cold War mentality. They try to find enemies. They try to find spies,” he said. “But I think their attempt will be doomed as the latest investigation has shown.”

He warned supporters of Taiwanese independence in both China and the United States that the result of independence would be a “war of great consequences.”

Meanwhile, China yesterday announced that its ambassador to the United Nations, Qin Huasun, will be replaced next month by Wang Yingfan, now vice minister of foreign affairs.

Mr. Qin, 64, has been at the United Nation since June 1995. He is expected to continue in the Foreign Ministry, a spokesman from China’s U.N. mission said.

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