- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2002

A long way, baby
Ojars Kalnins spent much of his time knocking on NATO's door when he was Latvia's ambassador to the United States in the 1990s, only to be disappointed when his country was excluded from the NATO expansion five years ago.
Now, back home, he was a honored guest when NATO finally invited Latvia and her Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Lithuania, to join the Western alliance. Mr. Kalnins was part of the Latvian delegation that attended a ceremony in Lithuania to meet President Bush, who stopped there after last month's NATO summit in the Czech Republic.
"As that old cigarette ad goes, 'We've come a long way, baby,'" he wrote in an e-mail to Embassy Row.
The Baltic countries had to overcome Russian objections to NATO reaching its borders and skepticism among some U.S. defense experts who opposed the further expansion of the alliance.
Mr. Kalnins noted that the invitation to join NATO is another step in reversing Latvia's long isolation from the West, which began with German and later Soviet occupation.
"I always tell people that Latvia isn't coming back to Europe because we never left it. Europe left us behind after World War II," he wrote. "Since independence in 1991, Europe has been returning."
Latvia is soon expected to join the European Union, which "will finally complete [Europes] return," he said, adding, "Feels pretty good."

A-Baki award
Ivonne A-Baki, the former ambassador from Ecuador, will be honored for her efforts to promote economic development in Latin America when the Inter-American Economic Council gathers in Washington for its winter gala.
Mrs. A-Baki will receive the council's 2003 Excellence in Leadership Award because she has "worked tirelessly to create an environment in which trade and commerce can flourish," Council President Barry Featherman said in announcing her award.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who delivers the keynote address at the two-day Pan American Health Organization's centennial symposium, and Mexican Health Minister Julio Frank Mora, who participates in a panel discussion on public health in the Americas. Tomorrow's panelists include: Denzil Douglas, prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis; Costa Rican Health Minister Maria del Rocio Saenz Madrigal; Julian Lob-Levyt of Britain's Department for International Development; and Canada's Anwar Islam of the International Development Agency and Marc Lortie, assistant deputy minister of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Ahmet Evin of the Turkish Economy and Social Studies Foundation, who discusses the results of the Turkish election at a forum sponsored by the Middle East Institute.
Louise Beaudoin, Quebec's minister of international relations, who discusses relations between the French-Canadian province and the United States, as part of the Washington Center's Presidential Lecture Series.
Ahn Choong-yong, president of South Korea's Institute for International Economic Policy, who discusses the political situation on the Korean Peninsula at a forum sponsored by Johns Hopkins University.
Joyce Juo-yu Lin of Taiwan's Tamkung University, who discusses Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean issues at a forum sponsored by Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and Women in International Security.
Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi, who meets President Bush and addresses the Council on Foreign Relations.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who meets President Bush.
Young-Soo Han of the South Korean International Trade Association and Pierre Gosselin of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal. They discusses trade issues at the American Enterprise Institute.
Michael Ruhle, NATO's director of policy planning. He discusses the expansion of NATO at a forum sponsored by the European Institute.
Long Yong-tu, China's vice minister of foreign trade and cooperation who speaks at a luncheon of the Institute for International Economics.

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