- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Turkmenistan warned

A top U.S. diplomat warned Turkmenistan to improve its deplorable record on human rights if it wants to improve relations with the United States.

Stephan M. Minikes, ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told Turkmen officials of U.S. concerns about “exit controls, [the] lack of religious freedoms and lack of international access to prisoners,” the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan said yesterday.

Mr. Minikes, who visited the country last week, met with the ministers of foreign affairs and education, the Council of Religious Affairs, the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and nongovernmental organizations.

He urged the Turkmen government “to remain engaged with multilateral organizations like the OSCE and to honor its commitments to international conventions,” the embassy said.

The State Department’s human rights report characterizes Turkmenistan as a “one-party state dominated by its president, who continued to exercise power in a Soviet-era authoritarian style.”

The OSCE, the world’s largest regional security group with 55 members from Europe, North America and Central Asia, has grown increasingly alarmed at abuses in Turkmenistan since the government began a crackdown on dissidents after a failed coup against President Saparmurat Niyazov last year.

Mongolia’s forum

Mongolia, a Central Asian democracy that rose out of the ashes of communism, hosted a major conference on political and economic freedom that called for the “democratization of the United Nations,” the Mongolian Embassy said.

The 5th International Conference of New or Restored Democracies this month drew 450 delegates from 110 countries, including Afghanistan.

Among their proposals, they said the United Nations should do a better job of promoting democracy, the embassy noted in a report on the conference.

The delegates also agreed that the mere “declaration of democracy” is not enough. A country must adopt laws that assure human rights, the embassy said.

“The right of reproduction, gender equality and poverty alleviation were regarded as among the most important aspects for strengthening democracies,” the embassy said.

The delegates also decided that “globalization must be made to work for all people by minimizing its negative impact on the poor and vulnerable groups,” the embassy said.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in a message to the conference, praised Mongolia for hosting the conference and serving as an example to developing democracies.

Mongolia is marking its 13th year as a democracy since massive street demonstrations forced the resignation of the communist politburo in 1990.

Death of a diplomat

Israel today buries one of its greatest diplomats, a former ambassador to the United States who helped save the Jewish state in the 1973 Mideast war and helped negotiate peace with Egypt.

Simcha Dinitz, who served here in the 1970s, died of a heart attack yesterday morning, according to the Jewish Agency, an organization he directed after leaving the foreign service.

While in Washington, Mr. Dinitz, 74, helped organize a U.S. airlift of weapons to Israel during the ‘73 war. He also participated in talks brokered by President Carter that led to a peace treaty signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Mr. Dinitz was elected as a Labor Party representative to the Israeli parliament in 1984. From 1987 to 1995, he chaired the Jewish Agency, a government-sponsored organization that helps arrange migration to Israel.

He is survived by his wife, Vivian, and three children, Dorit, Michael and Tamar.

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

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