- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 2, 2002

Good neighbors

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer insisted yesterday that the United States and Europe are working together on a range of issues, from the Middle East to missile control, and dismissed press reports of a trans-Atlantic family feud.

He also admitted that the United States is far more advanced constitutionally than the European Union, which is struggling to draft a legal framework to accommodate as many as 25 member nations.

"We are 200 years behind you. We have just reached the point of your debate over the Federalist Papers," he said, referring to the newspaper articles by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison in 1787 that promoted the ratifcation of the Constitution, which went into effect two years later.

"We will have deep institutional problems without institutional reforms," Mr. Fischer told reporters at a breakfast meeting hosted by German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger.

He said the goal of the European Union's constitutional committee is to propose a document that will develop "a more integrated Europe with one voice, with one policy."

Mr. Fischer described reports of trans-Atlantic turmoil as an "ongoing debate over public opinion."

"One side blames the other for anti-Americanism, and the other complains about anti-Europeanism," he said.

Mr. Fischer, however, said he tells critics of America in Germany that Europe must get more involved in international affairs.

"We don't have too much America. We have too little Europe," he said. "America is a global power with global responsibilities. It cannot wait to act until Europe settles on a position."

Mr. Fischer met with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Monday and with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice yesterday. He also visited members of Congress.

Part of the discussion concerned President Bush's upcoming visit to Germany on May 22, his first as president.

Historical rendezvous

The Lithuanian ambassador appealed yesterday to Congress to support the 10 European countries that want to join NATO at a November summit and said that the meeting will be a "rendezvous with history."

Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas dismissed criticism that the 19-member alliance would be unmanageable if the countries that want to join are included all at once in a "big bang" expansion.

"Our inclusion in the security structures of NATO will not make the alliance unwieldy or unmanagable. Quite the contrary," he told the House International Relations subcommittee on Europe.

"It will add a group of nations, prepared to act, who have devoted the resources and made the commitment to deal with a changing world, a group of nations who truly understands the moral imperative of freedom and democracy and the values and responsibilities that come with them."

Mr. Usackas delivered the concluding remarks, after testimony from the ambassadors of Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Referring to the summit, he said, "It truly is a rendezvous with history."

Ducky diplomacy

The demonstrators who shouted pro-Tibet slogans when Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao visited the State Department this week didn't ruffle Bertha's feathers.

She is used to the hubbub of the diplomatic traffic at the State Department, where she has attracted some high-level admirers, including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

But Bertha can't be bothered with the attention. She has more important duties, such as hatching her eggs.

Bertha, a female mallard duck, has been nesting in a planter outside the official C Street entrance since April, and yesterday the State Department declared her its "unofficial mascot."

It even posted a photo of her on its Web site, www.state.gov, with the caption: "Unofficial mascot Bertha the duck broods in a planter outside the Department of State's Diplomatic Entrance.

"The mallard, along with her mate, took up residence in the planter in mid-April and was named by camera technicians, who spend long hours at the C street entrance filming arrivals and departures of high-level visitors to the department."

There was no word on the whereabouts of the "mate."

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