Thursday, May 24, 2001

‘Avarice, not atavism’
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday blamed greedy, power-mad leaders, not ancient ethnic hatred, for the Balkan wars of the last decade.
“Ethnic and religious grievance has been used as a prop on the stage of politics and, particularly, politics of those who are greedy to get, maintain and use power for their own purpose,” he said in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
“To fail to understand this is to dangerously underestimate how politics can be captured by economic interests, and those who fall into the trap of arguing that the region can be understood only through the prism of ethnic hatred are, in fact, fellow travelers of the hate-mongers. It is avarice, not atavism, that explains so much of our recent and tragic history in the region.”
Mr. Papandreou insisted that the continuing tension in that region is the result of a struggle between “two different world views.”
One, promoted by the jailed former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, “believes that problems can be solved by usurping power through violence, by whipping up ethnic hatred, by promoting the concept of ethnically clean societies.”
The competing view believes “in the strength of pluralism and the strength of diversity in a multiethnic world — that different groups can live together in peace under the same roof, within the same borders, within democratic institutions, and that, in fact, is their basic strength.”
Mr. Papandreou said Greece has practiced the second view, although 10 years ago it was gripped by fear as the former Yugoslavia began breaking apart, unleashing war and ethnic cleansing.
“We did stay out of wars. We did try mediation,” he said. “But our initial response when all of this was happening around us was a response of fear.”

Peterson resigns

Douglas “Pete” Peterson, the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, yesterday said he will resign from his post in July to return to Florida, where Democratic leaders say he is likely to run for governor against President Bushs brother.
Mr. Peterson, appointed by President Clinton and kept on by Mr. Bush, was considered a symbol of reconciliation with the communist government because he was held for 6 1/2 years as a prisoner during the Vietnam war.
The ambassador said his resignation will be effective July 15.
Mr. Peterson, 65, is considered one of about a half-dozen candidates for the Democratic nomination to run against Florida Gov. Jeb Bush next year.
The Miami Herald yesterday reported that Mr. Peterson telephoned Bob Poe, the state Democratic Party leader, from Hanoi to inform him of his plans to resign the ambassadorship.
“I believe he has every intention of running,” Mr. Poe said.
Mr. Peterson had told the Bush administration he was interested in staying on in Vietnam, but a group of Florida Democrats visited him in Hanoi last month to urge him to seek he gubernatorial nomination, Mr. Poe told the Herald.
Mr. Peterson, a former congressman, served in the House from 1991 to 1997, representing a North Florida district.
In his resignation statement issued by the U.S. Embassy, Mr. Peterson said he hopes Congress will approve a new trade pact with Vietnam because it “will cap the full normalization of U.S.-Vietnam relations.”
He said he was honored to serve as ambassador, adding, “I believe that we have come a very long way in my four years here.”

Envoy to Pakistan

President Bush has picked an expert on international narcotics and terrorism issues to be the next U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.
Wendy Chamberlain, a career diplomat, has served as the principle deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs since 1999.
She is a former ambassador to Laos and served as deputy chief of mission in Malaysia in the 1990s.
Mr. Bush also formally nominated William S. Farish, a family friend, to be ambassador to Britain. Mr. Farish, a multimillionaire who raises horses on a Kentucky farm, is also a friend of Britains Queen Elizabeth II. Mr. Bush, in March, announced he intended to nominate Mr. Farish.
In other diplomatic news, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday confirmed former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, a Tennessee Republican, as ambassador to Japan.

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