- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Slovakia's 1,000 flags
Slovak Ambassador Martin Butora is in for a busy week, as he prepares for the visit of his prime minister and the dedication of the new Slovak Embassy on Friday.
He is also overseeing arrangements for an opera performance by Slovak singer Sergei Koptchak on Thursday and a celebrity tennis tournament with Slovak hockey stars Peter Bondra and Peter Stastny on Saturday.
All the events celebrate the opening of the new embassy at 3523 International Court NW, which will give the Slovak Republic a prominent face in Washington. For years, Slovak diplomats have worked in the anonymity of an office suite in upper Georgetown.
But besides the pomp and ceremony, Mr. Butora is promoting what he calls the "thousand flags of Slovakia," a reference to the Slovak immigrants to the United States who kept their countrys culture alive while Slovaks in Europe were dominated by the Austro-Hungarian Empire or later by the Soviet Union.
"Even before our country gained its freedom and independence, it was represented here by generations of Slovaks who made their way to these shores and who contributed with their labor and sacrifice to the building of this country," Mr. Butora said in a statement this week.
"Slovak fraternal organizations representing about 2 million Slovak-Americans not only succeeded in preserving Slovak identity, they also contributed to an awakening of Slovak consciousness back home, where their countrymen were struggling for recognition within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
"More than a century after their founding, they not only continue to keep Slovak culture in America alive, but they also provide support for our aspirations to join the Euro-Atlantic community of free nations."
He invited Slovak-Americans to attend a public flag-raising ceremony at the embassy at noon on Friday or to raise a Slovak flag in front of their homes if they cannot make it to Washington.
Mr. Butora is also planning to celebrate the Fourth of July with Slovak and American friends at the embassy.
"Slovak flags will symbolically join American flags, as the American independence will be celebrated for the first time at a Slovak embassy in the United States," he said.
Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda and Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan also will hold a news conference Friday at 9 a.m. at the National Press Club to discuss Slovakias desire to join NATO and review the security situation in Europe.

'Flamboyant' Iraqi

Nizar Hamdoon, the Iraqi diplomat once known in Washington for his "flamboyant" style, has been given a new assignment as Iraqs ambassador to Austria.
Mr. Hamdoon served as Iraqs first ambassador to the United States after the restoration of diplomatic relations in 1984. Three years later he returned to Baghdad to become deputy foreign minister. In the mid-1990s, he was ambassador to the United Nations.
During his years in Washington, Mr. Hamdoon was described as a "Westernized" diplomat who "wooed" reporters with his smooth manner.
Iraqs Nassiriya newspaper this week reported that he will replace Ambassador Naji Sabri Hadithi in Vienna. Mr. Hadithi is expected to return to Iraq to serve as minister of state for foreign affairs, the newspaper said.

Wrong room

A congressional panel will hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m. today on human rights in Russia in Room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building.
Because of an inaccurate entry on a wire service "daybook," Embassy Row reported yesterday that the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe would be held in a room in the Ford House Office Building that happens to be the commission office.
The commission, led by Republicans Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado and Rep. Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, will receive testimony from Elena Bonner, widow of the Russian human rights campaigner Andrei Sakharov and director of a foundation to monitor human rights abuses.
Mrs. Bonner and other witnesses will discuss the condition of human rights under President Vladimir Putin, who is due to meet President Bush June 16 at a summit in Slovenia.


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