Thursday, October 21, 2004

The OAS representative

In regard to the article about the Organization of American States by Roland Flamini (“Rodriguez took over OAS like a ‘whirlwind,’ ” World, Tuesday), allow me to call your attention to two factual mistakes.

First, the charter of the Organization of American States, which brought the group to life, was adopted by the then-21 republics of the Americas in 1948, 56 years ago. The OAS was not “launched 30 years ago,” as Mr. Flamini contends.

The second, and more egregious, error is Mr. Flamini’s misidentification of Luigi R. Einaudi as “U.S. representative to the OAS.” Though it is true that Mr. Einaudi has had a distinguished academic and diplomatic career and that he was in fact the U.S. ambassador to the OAS in the early 1990s, he has long since been retired from the State Department.

In 2000, he was unanimously elected assistant secretary-general by the member states of the OAS, largely in recognition of his long and patient service in bringing to peaceful resolution a longtime border dispute between Peru and Ecuador.



With the resignation of Miguel Angel Rodriguez as secretary-general, Mr. Einaudi will serve as acting secretary-general until the OAS member states elect a new one.

The reverse of Mr. Flamini’s statement is more correct: Mr. Einaudi is the principal OAS representative to the United States, as well as the other member countries of the organization.

The current U.S. representative to the OAS is John Maisto.

JAMES PATRICK KIERNAN

Officer in charge

Department of Public Information

Organization of American States

Washington

Turkey meeting EU standards

In his recent column “A knock on the door” (Commentary, Oct. 14), Philip Terzian cites so-called “obstacles” to Turkey’s accession to the European Union that bear little relationship to reality.

Despite Mr. Terzian’s claims to the contrary, Turkey is a full-fledged secular democracy where power resides with representatives elected by the people. The European Commission’s recent declaration that Turkey meets the Copenhagen political criteria for accession to the EU is testament to this. Indeed, over the past few years, the Turkish parliament has enacted more than 200 laws aimed at modernizing the country’s penal code, protecting political dissent and religious pluralism, and ensuring the rule of law and protection of human rights. Our progress has been praised by almost all human-rights monitors, including the U.S. State Department’s Report on International Religious Freedom. Nowhere in this report are religious groups in Turkey said to be “under siege,” as Mr. Terzian incorrectly purports.

As for Mr. Terzian’s suggestion that Turkey be required to resolve the Cyprus problem as a condition for EU membership, I must note that it is the Greek Cypriots who are the only obstacle to a lasting and just solution to the division on this island. Let us not forget that Turkish Cypriots voted in April for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan to reunify the island, while Greek Cypriots opposed it overwhelmingly. Despite this fact, the Greek Cypriot administration has been crowned with EU membership, whereas the Turkish Cypriots remain in isolation.

Finally, spurious allegations of genocide during the last days of the Ottoman Empire have no place in today’s efforts for European unification. It should be noted that scholars and civic society from both parties are trying to reach a common understanding on how to describe the events that occurred during that period, while Turkish and Armenian officials are working to resolve their differences and promote reconciliation.

Regrettably, some extremist, marginal elements continue to spurn these efforts in favor of campaigns intended to malign Turkey with the hope of undermining its EU aspirations.

TIMUR SOYLEMEZ

Counselor

Embassy of Turkey

Washington

In defense of the U.N.

Ed Feulner’s opinion piece in The Washington Times is misinformed and malicious (“Oil for corruption,” Commentary, Oct. 7). From the beginning, all allegations against U.N. staff and member states have been treated with the utmost seriousness and transparency by the United Nations.

This is what led the secretary-general to seek the creation of the Independent Inquiry Committee which is headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, along with South African jurist Richard Goldstone and Mark Pieth, a Swiss expert on international money laundering.

The investigation has been initially funded by a $4 million allocation from the United Nations, and all members of the U.N. Security Council recently agreed to provide additional funding requested by Mr. Volcker.

Mr. Volcker has also named distinguished individuals, including a former Canadian deputy foreign minister, former U.S. prosecutors, attorneys and investigators, who possess a great deal of experience handling complex investigations.

The investigative inquiry, like every other U.N. committee and organization, lacks subpoena power for a reason that should resonate with conservative organizations like Feulner’s Heritage Foundation: The power of subpoena is an act of sovereignty reserved to member states.

Several investigations in Congress have already resulted in subpoenas against a great many parties, and Mr. Volcker has repeatedly stated that a spirit of cooperation characterizes all investigations at this point.

The committee has already reached an agreement with U.S. and Iraqi authorities with regard to access to Oil-for-Food program records in Baghdad.

Concerning the enforcement of accountability, the secretary-general has confirmed publicly on several occasions that he will waive the immunity of any staff member who is found to have committed a crime, regardless of whether the staff member has functional or diplomatic immunity.

Moreover, the Security Council resolution that created the panel included a commitment from member nations to cooperate fully with the inquiry.

Allegations against the United Nations and the Oil for Food program are serious and deserve careful investigation. In his rush to judgment, Mr. Feulner should be reminded that, according to U.S. law, individuals are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. Contrary to Mr. Feulner’s rhetoric, all signs point to an inquiry that is exhaustive and independent.

WILLIAM H. LUERS

President and CEO

United Nations Association of the United States of America

New York

Patent protection needed

In his letter (“Patents, copyrights need new ideas,” Wednesday), Dean Baker is dead wrong about the system of patents and copyrights being “archaic” and “government-granted monopolies.”

The system of protecting the intellectual property of an inventor has served this nation well since Colonial times. How can he forget the contributions of Eli Whitney, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, to name a very few?

The protection, essential to all who have it in themselves to develop a product that will improve the life of man, is extended to large companies as it is to the individual. I am an individual, a working mother and a U.S.-patent-holding inventor. I would not have invested thousands of my hard-earned dollars to invent the Light Brigade, my original concept for a residential land and property security system, if there was no system in place to protect my intellectual property and offer rewards for the prodigious time and dollar investment to develop my idea.

I have other patents pending in the system, and I have already formed a small company to bring the associated products to market, thanks to the knowledge that my investment is protected by the system. The patent and trademark system is unique to the United States in many ways and is a singular feature of the property rights of the individual. In fact, it is a demonstration of “hands off” by the government, which in some other countries would claim the rights to the intellectual property of its citizens.

To remove the protection guaranteed by the patent and trademark system in the United States would devastate the production and development of new ideas. That loss would return us to the feudalism Mr. Baker alludes to.

VICTORIA J. BINGHAM

Alexandria

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