- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2001

Syrian meets Bush

President Bush pledged U.S. help to reach a "comprehensive peace" in the Middle East when Syria's new ambassador presented his diplomatic credentials this week, according to reports from Syria.

Mr. Bush told Ambassador Rustum Zoubi that his administration is impressed by the "reform measures" initiated by new Syrian President Bashar Assad, Reuters news agency said yesterday, quoting an unidentified Syrian official.

" 'Making progress toward peace requires confidence and commitment by all parties concerned,' " the official quoted Mr. Bush as saying. "The U.S. is ready to help all parties reach a comprehensive peace in the region… .

" 'We are following with great interest the reform measures of President Bashar and value his efforts to improve the economic level of the Syrian people.' "

The White House yesterday declined to release any text of Mr. Bush's comments.

Mr. Zoubi, who presented his credentials on Tuesday, has served as charge d'affaires since January 2000, following the departure of Ambassador Walid Moualem.

Survivor's gratitude

Costa Rican Ambassador Jaime Daremblum was not surprised by the revelations that Polish villagers, not Nazi occupiers, were responsible for the massacre of 1,600 Jews in 1941.

Mr. Daremblum knew one of the survivors and had met the Polish woman who risked her life to save him and several other Jewish residents of the village of Jedwabne in northeastern Poland.

Mr. Daremblum had known Szmul Wasersztajn in Costa Rica, where he immigrated after World War II. Mr. Daremblum also met his savior, a Polish Catholic woman named Antonia Wryzykowski, when she was invited to Costa Rica in 1987 to be honored for her heroism.

Mr. Daremblum was president of the Jewish Community of Costa Rica at the time, and Mrs. Wryzykowski was living in Chicago.

Mr. Wasersztajn, who died last year, became a successful businessman in Costa Rica. He and the other five Jews rescued by Mrs. Wryzykowski showed their gratitude to Mrs. Wryzykowski by helping to support her, Mr. Daremblum said.

"Throughout their lives, they expressed this gratitude. There are so many cases today of people who are ungrateful. This is a happy ending," he said.

The shocking disclosure of the real story of the massacre comes in a new book, "Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne," that is due to be released in the United States next month.

Poles had been taught that the Nazis had burned the Jews alive in a barn. But new revelations have thrown them into a state of national soul-searching, Polish Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski told Embassy Row this week.

Mr. Grudzinski said Poles had considered themselves victims, not victimizers, during the Nazi occupation of the war and communist domination afterwards.

"Our national mythology is that we were on the side of goodness, not darkness," he said. "It is haunting us right now."

Cyprus sensitivity

The Cypriot ambassador is understandably sensitive to any suggestion that she may have called the Turkish-Cypriot regime by the name it uses for itself.

Ambassador Erato Kozakou Marcoullis has never referred to the breakaway entity on the northern end of the island as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

She was concerned that an item in yesterday's Embassy Row made it appear she had used the phrase. Mrs. Kozakou Marcoullis, as the envoy of the Greek-Cypriot government, represents the internationally recognized government of the divided isle. The TRNC is recognized only by Turkey.

This column noted that Mrs. Kozakou Marcoullis, in an interview, regretted that there has been no progress in talks with the TRNC. She is not quoted in that paragraph, and, of course, she never uttered the name of the Turkish side.

However, she wanted to make sure readers understood that, so she dropped this column an e-mail.

Mrs. Kozakou Marcoullis called the TRNC "an illegal entity condemned by the U.N. Security Council and not recognized by any country in the world, with the exception, of course, of Turkey."


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