- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

Hungarian optimist
Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi says he believes his country is facing its brightest future in generations as it solidifies its position in NATO and prepares to join the European Union.
"Not since the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire have Hungarians been so optimistic," the new ambassador told editors and reporters at The Washington Times last week.
Hungary chose the wrong sides in the two world wars and then suffered decades of repression under communism.
"I don't want to see any more experiments. Hitler experimented for years. Lives were lost. Years were lost," he said, expressing his good fortune to live under a democracy. "Can you imagine the hopelessness of those born in the darkest days of Nazism and Stalinism?"
Mr. Simonyi, who arrived in Washington four months ago, says his goal is to shift Hungarian-American relations into a "higher gear … to further strengthen our status as a reliable and credible ally."
With Iraq creating a wedge between the United States and key allies in Western Europe, notably France and Germany, Mr. Simonyi said Hungary is supporting Washington but also working to preserve unity in NATO.
"No one should ask us to make a choice between Europe and trans-Atlantic relations," he said.
Mr. Simonyi shares the U.S. view that democracy can prevail in Iraq and other Arab nations.
"I reject the idea that [democracy] can be done in one religious circle and not another," he said, dismissing cynics who say democracy and Islam cannot mix.
The ambassador talked of a "conflict of values, not a conflict of civilization," explaining that democracy in Arab countries would not have to copy the Western model.
However, he said that "the natural state of human beings is democracy, a system that promotes human dignity."
Mr. Simonyi called terrorism a "cancer" but expressed his hope that the United States and its European allies would "find ways to sort out the social structures that feed the terrorists."
Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, who meets Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice this week. He also addresses the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute.
Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Morshed Khan, who meets Stephen Hedley, deputy national security adviser. He meets members of Congress tomorrow.
Sergei V. Yastrzhembsky, assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He addresses guests at the opening of an exhibit on terrorism in Chechnya. He holds a news conference at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the National Press Club.
Amirzhan Kossanov, leader of the political opposition in Kazakhstan, meets members of Congress to discuss political repression in his country.
Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative for Afghanistan. He speaks at Georgetown University on the future of Afghanistan and receives the Raymond Trainor Award.
A delegation of Afro-Brazilian civil rights advocates that includes Rosalia de Oliviera Lemos, Carlos Alberto Santos de Paulo, Elisabete Aparecida Pinto and Cesar Augusto C. Xavier. They attend an Inter-American Dialogue program on discrimination.
Former Bolivian President Jorge F. Quiroga addresses the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.
Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar, Bahrain's minister of state for foreign affairs. He meets administration officials and members of Congress to prepare for next week's visit by King Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.
Mexican Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha and Canadian Deputy Solicitor General Paul Kenney hold a noon news conference at the National Press Club to discuss drug trafficking.
Anne Willem Bijleveld of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees addresses the Migration Policy Institute.
Jacques Rigault, adviser to the French minister of cooperation, who addresses the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies about the politics in Togo.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who meets President Bush at Camp David.

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