- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2003

Estonia on Turkey

Estonia, a political and economic success story in the Baltics, says it believes that Turkey will one day join the European Union but is not very happy about it, said former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar.

“One day Turkey will be in,” he said, adding with a chuckle, “almost whether anybody really wants it or not.”

Turkey, a Muslim nation with a secular government, has long campaigned to join the European bloc but faces resistance from some Christian European leaders. Some also object because Turkey, with most of its territory in Asia, would expand the EU borders beyond Europe.

Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952 and believes that it deserves a place in the European Union because of its Cold War dedication to the fight against communism.

Our correspondent Mark Powell, who covered Mr. Laar’s speech at the Heritage Foundation last week, reported that the Estonian leader is concerned that Turkey is a “different case” from other EU members. Estonia is among the 10 nations preparing to join the European Union.

He said, however, that Turkey’s membership is almost certain.

Mr. Laar said Estonia, which gained freedom after the collapse of the Soviet Union, believes that it must share sovereignty with other EU members because collective decision-making is becoming more important than such traditional national symbols as flags and embassies.

Mr. Laar, a historian and legislator who served two terms as prime minister, believes that all European countries will be affected by the expanding European Union, irrespective of their membership status. It is better, he said, for a small country to have some influence as an EU member, rather than none outside the union.

Mr. Laar, reviewing Estonia’s transition from communism, recalled the difficulties of introducing a market economy during his first term in 1992. He regained the post of prime minister in 1999 and introduced a program of tax cuts and industrial privatization.

Mr. Laar has said he would like to be remembered as the man who put Estonia on an irreversible path to Western democracy and a market economy.

Family diplomacy

President Bush has chosen a cousin of his father’s to serve as ambassador to Hungary.

George H. Walker III is a first cousin to Mr. Bush’s father, former President George Herbert Walker Bush.

Mr. Walker is chairman emeritus of the Stifel Financial Corp. of St. Louis and of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., an investment bank and brokerage firm.

In the Bush family tradition, Mr. Walker graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School.

Mr. Walker, whose nomination needs Senate approval, would replace Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker, who resigned June 19.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Vyacheslav Turbnikov, Russia’s first deputy foreign minister, who meets with Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage as part of the Russia-U.S. Working Group on Counterterrorism.

• Madhu Raman Acharya, Nepal’s foreign secretary, who meets members of Congress and State Department officials to discuss trade issues and the status of refugees from Bhutan and Tibet.

• Mounir Bouchenaki, director-general for culture of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. He speaks at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art about a UNESCO study of cultural sites in Iraq.

Wednesday

• Ermurat Bapi, editor of the independent Kazakh newspaper SolDat, who discusses press restrictions in Central Asia at a forum sponsored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

• Didi Remez, an Israeli army veteran now with Peace Now, and Amjad Atallah, a legal adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. They participate in a Middle East forum at 12:30 p.m. in Room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Friday

• Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who meets President Bush.

• Adama Samassekou, former government minister of Mali, who holds a 10 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss plans for the U.N. world summit on information technology in December.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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