- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Tribunal time limit would work in Milosevic's favor

The United States is misguided if it seeks to place a time limit on the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague ("U.S. calls U.N. tribunals wasteful, wants them closed," March 1). Threatening to close down the tribunal will only encourage the Belgrade government, in particular, to drag out the process. It will stonewall in extraditing indictees and releasing documents until time runs out.

If the tribunal has so far "lacked efficiency," as the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes claims, this can be attributed in part to the international community's own miserly reluctance to share the information it has collected in the region, which would speed up the preparation and conduct of trials. Instead of spending energy on closing the tribunal before it completes its work, the international community should facilitate the tribunal's work by pressuring a reluctant Belgrade to open its archives (as, apparently, it has done only for Slobodan Milosevic to use in his defense) and to hand over the remaining indictees it has been shielding. Anything less will only hamper the tribunal's efficiency further and jeopardize its basic mission to contribute to justice and stability in the troubled Balkan region.


NORMAN CIGAR

Vienna

If you don't like English, don't come to the U.S.

Your March 2 story "They speak English officially in Iowa" summed up two opposing views about states passing legislation to make English their official language. One side says that having a single official language is common sense, and keeping English as our nation's common language is essential to maintaining our unity and cohesion as a nation. That is the view of 81 percent of Iowans and the vast majority of the American people. According to polls, it is also the view of most immigrants.

The other side condemns such views as "racist" and demands that English speakers pay the entire cost of accommodating anyone who wants all the benefits of living in the United States, while they continue to speak their native language. According to your reporter, this group of people thinks that the idea that English should be pre-eminent in a country where it has been the common language for centuries is "repulsive."

To this latter group, let me say this: Anyone who comes to this country is completely aware that English is our country's national language. If they don't like that, I have a very easy solution for them. Don't come.


K.C. McALPIN

Executive director

ProEnglish

Arlington

Charge of ethnic insensitivity in Romania is unfounded

I was disappointed to read the letter to the editor regarding the rights of national minorities in Romania ("'Language discrimination' in Eastern Europe," March 3). Contrary to the letter writer's allegations, the Hungarian minority living in Romania enjoys all the rights related to the use of its mother tongue. Ethnic Hungarians are taught in their mother tongue in state-funded primary and secondary schools as well as in universities.

Moreover, according to the Law on Local Public Administration, in all communities where persons belonging to national minorities represent more than 20 percent of the population, local authorities must ensure the inscription of the names of localities and public institutions, as well as the communication of all decisions of public interest, in the mother tongue of the respective minority. Moreover, the law provides for the possibility of conducting the meetings of the local council in the mother tongue of a national minority in communities where representatives of this minority amounts to at least one-third of the members of the council, the proceedings being covered by an interpreter.

It might also be relevant for your readers to know that the current Romanian government is a minority government supported by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), the main party representing the rights of the Hungarian minority in Romania, based upon a cooperation protocol signed on Jan. 29.

Furthermore, Allen Kassof, president of the U.S.-based foundation Project on Ethnic Relations, active in Central and Eastern European countries for more than ten years, acknowledged the high-level cooperation between the current Romanian government and the UDMR. "Interethnic dialogue and cooperation of such quality and with such good results have no equivalent, at this time, in this region of Europe. … What you have achieved is already a great success, an example for all the countries in the region," declared Mr. Kassof in the Feb. 25 edition of the Romanian daily Adevarul.

These facts are proof of Romania's promotion of democratic values and interethnic harmony.


SORIN DUCARU

Ambassador of Romania

Washington

A debt to the ancients

Commentary columnist Don Feder is right to argue for constitutional protection for the placement of Ten Commandments in public facilities. However, he is wrong to claim that, without them, there would be no "Declaration of Independence or Constitution in short, no United States" ("Stone-deaf on religious appeal," March 9).

Actually, ancient Greece and Rome were the true wellsprings of American republicanism, not religion. In fact, the Roman model for our republic was taken from the writings of the Greek historian Polybius. Most of the Founding Fathers were steeped in the classics, especially the co-authors of the Constitution, James Madison and John Adams.

As for the Declaration of Independence, its leading drafter, the immortal Thomas Jefferson, was fluent in both Greek and Latin. He, like many of his intellectual compatriots, was conversant with the philosophy of the Roman Stoics and Greece's Zeno and Epictetus.

The theories of moral sense, natural rights, and the doctrine of natural law, according to Carl J. Richard's insightful "The Founders and the Classics," were part of the classical "wisdom" the Founding Fathers relied on to build a nation that would "stand the test of time."


WILLIAM HUGHES

Baltimore


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