- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2002

Selling Romania
Romanian Ambassador Sorin Ducaru yesterday marked his first year in Washington by hosting a visiting delegation of American executives who are promoting Romania as a good place to do business, despite corrupt officials.
"So many things have changed since last year," he said. "There is a new sense of maturity."
Mr. Ducaru also talked of a "fresh dynamic" in Romania's foreign and domestic policies.
In the past year, the bond-rating firms of Standard and Poor's and Fitch Ratings have recognized Romania's economic reforms by increasing long-term foreign currency ratings to B-plus from B.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell this month cited Romania as an example of a country that is enforcing laws against human trafficking, which he called a "modern form of slavery." Ambassador Nancy Eli-Raphel, his adviser on human trafficking, called Romania a "success story."
"We hope other countries will take similar steps," Mr. Powell said.
Romania, a candidate for NATO membership, sent 475 troops to Afghanistan. It has also outlawed fascist organizations.
Obie Moore, president of the American Chamber of Congress in Romania, said the government has adopted legislation friendly to foreign investment. He also cited the lower cost of doing business in Romania compared with other eastern European countries. The chamber represents 130 U.S. businesses in Romania.
"We're not here to lobby on behalf of Romania," he said. "We're here to speak on behalf of the legitimate business interests in Romania."
Mr. Moore, a senior partner in the Chicago-based law firm of Altheimer and Grey, said he has been in Romania for 10 years and has watched the country grow. Romania is now benefiting from the end of years of war in neighboring Yugoslavia, which scared off investors worried about instability in the Balkans.
"Investors are now looking at this part of the world," he said.
Mr. Moore said corruption remains a problem but the government is taking measures against it.
"Corruption. It's true, absolutely," he said. "But you don't have to do it to succeed."
He said he advises his clients to refuse to pay bribes to government officials. He also said the corruption is mostly graft.
"It's not mafia-related," he said. "Romania knows it has to change."
Mr. Moore predicted that the criteria for membership in NATO and the European Union will guarantee that Romania root out corruption in government.

Presenting credentials
The new ambassadors from Ethiopia and Nicaragua pledged their governments' support in the war against terrorism, as they presented their diplomatic credentials to President Bush this week.
Kassahun Ayele said Ethiopia is well aware of the terrorist risks in the Horn of Africa.
"Ethiopia is committed to playing a constructive role in the region to ensure peace and stability for all law-abiding peoples and to combat poverty, which remains the most ominous threat to the region," he said.
Carlos J. Ulvert said Nicaragua has "emphatically pronounced itself on the side of those countries that share in the values of democracy and repudiate violence."
He also asked Mr. Bush to support Nicaragua's efforts to combat corruption and called for a free trade agreement between the United States and Central America.

Texas diplomacy
It's apparently no secret in Texas that Tony Garza, the state railroad commissioner and close friend of President Bush, is going to be named ambassador to Mexico.
Texas newspapers have been reporting the rumors for a month, but no one in the Bush administration is speaking publicly. A Mexican newspaper even reported that President Vicente Fox has already told the White House he would accept Mr. Garza, who would replace Ambassador Jeffery Davidow.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington:
Today
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo.
Tuesday
A delegation from the Slovak Republic that includes NATO Ambassador Peter Burian and Foreign Ministry officials Ivan Korcok and Peter Misik. They will meet administration officials and members of Congress.
Embassy Row will be on vacation next week. The column will return on July 1.


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