- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2001

Selling Central Europe

Central Europe is trying to offer itself as an alternative for Americans wary of losses in the chaotic U.S. stock market.

Czech Ambassador Alexandr Vondra, for one, says his region offers many incentives from a huge consumer base to special tax breaks for foreign investors.

Soon the Czech Republic and other Central European nations expect to join the European Union, which would offer a market of 500 million people.

"I think now is the time for U.S. investors to seriously consider engaging in Central Europe," Mr. Vondra wrote in the latest Czech Embassy newsletter. "It would be a mistake to pass up this opportunity."

He noted that Japanese investors moved into the Central European market after the Asian financial crisis.

"Why should only the Japanese, and not American investors as well, take advantage of the incentives offered by the Czech government incentives that feature, among other benefits, attractive tax [breaks]," Mr. Vondra said.

"For some reason, U.S. businesses looked at the region cautiously [after the collapse of communism]. First, there was a boom in America itself.

"Second, the Czech Republic was regarded as an emerging market with potential problems of corruption. And third, the Central European market, with its 100 million consumers, may have seemed less attractive due to their lower purchasing parity."

Appeal to Haitians

The Organization of American States has condemned the "current wave of violence and the climate of insecurity" in Haiti.

OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria this week said he is worried that the political turmoil will "further polarize the society."

The Permanent Council of the OAS last week directed Mr. Gaviria to consult with Haitian government and opposition leaders, after hearing Haitian Foreign Minister Joseph Philippe Antonio describe the worsening political situation.

"The Secretary General appeals for calm and for the cooperation of the political community and civil society in the country to create the necessary conditions for dialogue," the OAS said in a statement.

"The Secretary General further calls on all Haitians … to refrain from actions or statements that could exacerbate tensions and jeopardize the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis."

Korea coordination

The United States, Japan and South Korea plan to send delegates to South Korea next week to discuss ways to coordinate policy toward North Korea.

The State Department yesterday said Thomas Hubbard, acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will lead the U.S. delegation at the March 26 meeting of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group.

Mr. Hubbard also plans to meet separately with Japanese and South Korean foreign ministry officials in Seoul and later in Tokyo.

"We've made quite clear [that] as we review our North Korea policy, one essential element to all of us is the coordination with Japan and [South] Korea, and this is a continuation of that process," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Mr. Hubbard left yesterday for visits to Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines for bilateral talks unrelated to the North Korea meeting, Mr. Boucher said.

New Ethiopian diplomat

A specialist on American issues is the new deputy chief of mission at the Ethiopian Embassy.

Brook Hailu arrived in Washington last month from Ethiopia, where he served as director of the European and American Directorate in the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry.

He is also a former professor of political science and international relations at Addis Ababa University.

Fuerth's new job

Leon S. Fuerth, the longtime foreign policy adviser to former Vice President Al Gore, is now teaching international affairs at George Washington University.

Mr. Fuerth has been awarded the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro professorship at the university's Elliot School of International Affairs.

Mr. Fuerth served the past eight years at Mr. Gore's national security adviser.

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