- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2001

'Painful' election
"To make a long story short," said Bulgarian Ambassador Philip Dimitrov, "we had an election. The results were interesting."
Indeed. Voters rejected Mr. Dimitrovs ruling political party, the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), and embraced a civic movement named for and led by an exiled king.
Mr. Dimitrov, over breakfast with reporters this week, was confused and dejected by the results. After all, it was his party that led Bulgaria out of its communist past and put the country on the road toward a market economy. He is also a former prime minister, the first to win a free and fair election in 1991.
"Its painful to see the punishment for a job well done," he said.
The National Movement for Simeon II captured 120 seats in the 240-member parliament. With one vote short of a majority, the movement should have little trouble forming a government. The UDF fell to second place and will hold about 51 seats. The rest will be apportioned to other parties.
King Simeon II, who grew up in Spain after the communists dethroned his father, was not even a candidate in the election, but could still become prime minister because he will be the leader of the ruling party.
King Simeon, a somewhat shy figure, is hardly charismatic. Mr. Dimitrov called him an "enigma."
"He ran a marvelous campaign," Mr. Dimitrov said. "He got every bit of gain from his enigmatic role."
"What do voters know about him? His father was a good man. He was a good boy. They suffered from the communists," he added.
The ambassador noted another irony in the election. Exit polls showed 80 percent of voters oppose a restoration of the monarchy and support the preservation of the republic.
"Clearly, they are not voting for royalty," Mr. Dimitrov said.
The former kings movement also promoted a platform that reflected the UDF on major issues. Both parties support membership in NATO and the European Union. King Simeons party also promised to continue the economic reforms begun by the UDF but by kinder, gentler means.
King Simeon avoided specifics on how his party could complete the economic reforms that have caused high unemployment and low wages. But, in a sort of Clintonesque way, he talked about peoples pain.
"The voters dont want to be taken care of," Mr. Dimitrov said, "but they want someone who says he cares."
Mr. Dimitrov, ambassador here since 1998, could remain in Washington if his party joins a coalition government.

Angolan oil
Angola, once on the other side from the United States in the Cold War, now wants to help solve Americas energy problem.
Angolas new ambassador, Josefina Pitra Diakite, took her offer directly to President Bush when she presented her diplomatic credentials at the White House this week.
She reminded Mr. Bush that Angola is the seventh-largest supplier of oil to the United States and offered to find ways to increase that supply.
"Mr. President," she said, "we want to be part of the solution."
Mrs. Diakite is the third ambassador from Angola since 1993, when the United States established diplomatic relations with the southern African nation, ruled by the formerly Marxist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA).
The Soviet Union and Cuba backed the MPLA while the United States supported anti-communist rebels during the countrys civil war in the 1980s.
Mrs. Diakite told Mr. Bush that Angola wants to continue to improve relations with the United States.
"It is my firm desire to be able to concentrate my efforts on positive actions that contribute to the broadening and deepening of political and economic relations between our countries," she said.

Tapping Carnegie
Italys new conservative government has reached across the Atlantic to pluck a Washington think tank analyst for its new economic team.
Vito Tanzi, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowments Economic Reform Project, will serve as an undersecretary in the Economic Ministry under President Silvio Berlusconi.
"Well greatly miss [Mr. Tanzis] intellectual rigor, impressive economic expertise and thought-provoking analysis," said Carnegie President Jessica Mathews.

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