- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Polish Embassy Post
The Polish ambassador has resumed publication of the embassy newsletter with an issue that deals boldly with a grisly episode from World War II that has tarnished the countrys reputation.
The renamed newsletter, the Polish Embassy Post, reprints speeches and statements from Polish leaders, confronting the news that Polish peasants burned to death 1,600 Jews in the village of Jedwabne in July 1941.
Postwar Polish officials had hidden the truth from their citizens, who were told that Nazi occupiers had herded the Jews into a barn and burned it. Polish author Jan Tomasz Gross forced modern Polish leaders to confront the truth in his new book, "Neighbors," and in a New Yorker magazine article in March.
Ambassador Przemyslaw Grudzinski said the decision to devote most of the newsletter to the Jedwabne tragedy "underscores both the unprecedented public and political debate that took place in Poland in recent months."
"It also shows how important this matter is for all of us for bilateral relations, in our dialogue with the Jewish Diaspora, for the image of contemporary Polish democracy and last but not least for each and every one of us individually," he said.
"Depending on how we will resolve it both internally in Poland as well as externally in our international relations will set a trademark of our image in the world today.
"For the last 10 years, the image that we shared was that of a leader, a challenger and a winner in the post-communist world. Let us hope that we are able to retain that standing and face the future also through the prism of the difficult past."
The leaders quoted in the newsletter include Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, who called the massacre "frightening in its cruelty."
"It is our duty to pay homage to the victims and uncover the whole truth," he said.

More than fjords
The new Norwegian ambassador does not mind that Norway is rarely in the news. He knows that most news is about political upheaval, natural disasters or wars.
"Norway has not figured very prominently in the news lately. We are all right with that," Ambassador Knut Vollebaek told editors and reporters at The Washington Times on a recent visit.
He was half serious. Mr. Vollebaek very much wants the world to know that Norway is an important country with a significant role in European security.
Norway guarded NATOs northern flank during the Cold War, but now too little attention is paid to northern strategy, he said.
"The northern tip of Europe is important for European stability," said Mr. Vollebaek, a former foreign minister.
He noted that most attention in Europe is focused on the Balkans.
"Problems know no borders," he said. "The stability of Europe is dependent on the stability of all of Europe."
With its 120-mile border with Russia, Norway is well-placed to deal with Moscow, especially with another round of NATO expansion expected.
Mr. Vollebaek said NATO should listen to Russias objections to NATO accepting new members that would border Russia.
"We should listen to Russia, but NATO must choose its own members," he said. "NATO is not an aggressive alliance. It is a defensive alliance."
Norway supports the concept of a European defense force that would deal with conflicts too small for NATO but insists that the United States must stay involved in major strategic matters.
"To keep the United States engaged in Europe is very important," he said. "We cannot live without the active engagement of the United States."
On other issues, Mr. Vollebaek said Norway rejects criticism of its whaling industry, insisting that the country is in compliance with all international whaling treaties.
"One of the problems is that the whales eat a lot of fish," he said. "It would be impossible to say to the fishermen that they cant fish, but the whales can eat all they want."
He also said Norway regretted the U.N. vote that removed the United States from the U.N. human rights commission and installed human rights violators like Sudan, Libya and Cuba.
The United States believed it had enough support but was apparently blindsided by some of its allies, which voted for other countries in a secret ballot.
Just to clear up any confusion, Mr. Vollebaek said, "Norway voted in favor of the United States."


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