- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 3, 2002

Turkey's growing pains

M. James Wilkinson's column on Turkey ("Turkey's tangle with Europe," Op-Ed, Aug. 23) reflects the views of the departments of State and Defense on the problems facing that country. It presents the European Union as the bad guy, "arm twisting" Turkey over its human rights record and Cyprus.

Mr. Wilkinson implies that the standards expected of Turkey are unreasonable and unusual. They are not. They are the same standards applied to all other applicants. The Turkish Parliament recently adopted a reform package addressing some of the European Union's concerns. The question, however, is whether and how will these reforms be implemented. Moreover, the Turkish Parliament has yet to establish civilian control over the military, a fundamental principle in the United States and the European Union.

Turkey is simplistically presented as an invaluable ally of the United States requiring special sensitivity by the United States and the European Union because of its political and economic instability. Ironically, 20 years ago when Turkey was under strong military rule, the same officials argued for similar sensitivity toward Turkey because of its strong-willed nationalist military.

These rationalizations by State and Defense officials have brought U.S. policy vis-a-vis Turkey to its current predicament. Rationalizations of this type have not helped Turkey's road to democracy or to the European Union. They have only compromised fundamental principles of our foreign policy that we insist need to be applied elsewhere in the Middle East.

Mr. Wilkinson essentially asks the European Union to compromise the principles that have made it a model of democracy and economic growth to accommodate the "sick man of Europe." He also conveniently forgets that the United States and the international community recognize only one Republic of Cyprus, even though portions of its territory are under Turkey's military occupation.

A peaceful, viable, functional, constitutional solution in Cyprus cannot deviate from the principles of the European Union's acquis communautaire, from the decisions of the European courts and from all the Security Council resolutions on Cyprus.

Seeking selective paragraphs from foreign constitutions to satisfy Turkey's and its Turkish Cypriot surrogates' drive for secession and a separate sovereignty for occupied Cyprus will not resolve the Cyprus problem, will not restore stability in the region, will not achieve democracy in Turkey.


Professor emeritus

Indiana University-Purdue University (Fort Wayne)

Fort Wayne, Ind.

A chill pill for drug industry advocates

Nonsense. That is the best description of the opinions expressed by Peter Ferrara in "Poor prescription for health prospects" (Commentary, Thursday).

He states that members of Business for Affordable Medicines (BAM), working to close loopholes in the federal law that governs pharmaceutical competition, are "charlatans" seeking to "posture themselves on a high moral pedestal as champions of the poor, the sick, and the needy ."

The 1984 Hatch-Waxman Act was passed to protect patented drugs from competition by lower cost generic alternatives and to ensure robust generic competition as soon as possible after the patents expire. The result was a careful balance that ensured brand drug companies would invest in new drug research and that consumers could eventually get access to new cures at lower prices. Today, the brand drug industry has perfected a scheme to prevent generic competition well after the patents on their drugs expire.

Mr. Ferrara states that our advocacy of legislation to restore the balance intended by the Hatch-Waxman Act constitutes an "assault" on intellectual property and the patent system. He also claims drug companies will simply stop investing in research if their ability to market drugs without competition is affected in any way.

In fact, the Senate-passed bill does not change patent protections at all. Drug patents will still remain in effect for 20 years under the bill, an element demanded by our coalition members such as Kodak and Motorola, who are among the nation's largest patent holders. No BAM member will support any effort to undermine strong patent protections.

In addition, it is competition not the lack of it that drives pharmaceutical innovation. Drug industry spending for research has increased dramatically since 1984 as a result of, not despite, increasing generic competition.

Mr. Ferrara freely uses drug industry propaganda to conclude that "cures will dry up" if our efforts to bring free-market principles back into the equation are successful. He claims the average new drug costs $800 million to produce, without pointing out that only the drug industry uses this figure with a straight face. The data to support it is based entirely on internal surveys that have never been shared with outside auditors. He also fails to point out that, despite this, the brand pharmaceutical industry is more profitable than any other industry in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

The Federal Trade Commission reported last month that the industry has perfected schemes to "game" the system, and encouraged Congress to act now. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that bills to close loopholes in the Hatch-Waxman Act will save purchasers including taxpayers $6 billion annually.

Mr. Ferrara also implies that increased use of generic drugs "are a threat to the public health." He fails to assure the public that the FDA requires all generics to be bioequivalent to the brands they replace and to provide the same levels of safety and efficacy.

By passing Hatch-Waxman reform legislation, Congress has an opportunity to provide significant prescription drug cost relief to voters this year and without costing taxpayers a dime. Despite drug industry claims, restoring competition to the pharmaceutical industry is the best prescription for the health of Americans and the industry.



South Dakota

Pierre, S.D.

'Give Hoover credit for the good that he did'

Thursday's Culture, et cetera ran an excerpt from "The Most Dangerous Institution," an American Heritage article by Jack Kelly extolling the virtues of the late J. Edgar Hoover as FBI director. Mr. Kelly notes that "Hoover's youth [he was 29 when appointed FBI director] and energy helped him make the agency a model of efficiency, and his genuine skills as a leader kept him in the job for 48 years."

Yet inside the same issue of The Washington Times, Martin Luther King III and Dick Gregory are quoted calling for the removal of Mr. Hoover's name from the FBI headquarters building in Washington ("Ashcroft urged to scrap Hoover," Nation).

How ironic. Mr. King's most substantial accomplishment has been to capitalize on the name of his late father. Mr. Gregory's principal contribution to society has been participating in protests while publicly "fasting." What are their qualifications to call for the removal of anyone's name from a public building?

That same article also mentioned that Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, has introduced legislation calling for the removal of Mr. Hoover's name because Mr. Burton believes it is wrong to "honor a man who frequently manipulated the law to achieve his personal goals."

If that criteria were to be honestly and uniformly applied, most of the statues in our nation's capital would have to be razed, including some quite new ones, and a lot of our public buildings would have to be renamed.

Let's give Mr. Hoover credit for the good that he did, including his success nabbing mobsters, and not hold him to a standard that could not be met by many, if not most, of our past and present politicians and other public figures.


Montclair, Va.

Cartoon connoisseur

I was unpleasantly surprised Aug. 26 to find that The Washington Times had replaced the comic strip "Fox Trot" by Bill Amend with "Monty" by Jim Medick.

While I subscribe to The Times because I trust your reporting and the editorials fit my way of thinking, the rest of my family does not share my enthusiasm for reading the whole newspaper. Instead, they always read the comics. So how could you remove one of the better comic strips, "Fox Trot," and replace it with a far inferior one?

I'm asking you to rethink what you have done and put "Fox Trot" back in the comics section. Take out some less enjoyable comic strip such as "Crock," "Dick Tracy," "Rose Is Rose" or "Mallard Fillmore" if you must keep "Monty." This I request for my family more than myself.


Waldorf, Md.

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