- The Washington Times - Monday, February 21, 2005

German global quest

Germans are busily fashioning a new mission and image for themselves in the world, according to a visiting expert from Munich.

The recent commitment of more than $500 billion to the rehabilitation of the tsunami-devastated coastal and insular regions of Asia and Africa is evidently a part of that effort, our correspondent Ben Tyree reports.

Germany also is looking to sub-Saharan Africa.

Josef Janning, deputy director of the Center for Applied Policy in Munich and head of the Bertelsmann Group for Policy Research, explained Germany’s new global vision in a recent meeting at the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies.

Mr. Janning said there is German interest in a sort of Marshall Plan of European aid to help stabilize sub-Saharan Africa. Rather than immediate democratization, Mr. Janning said the goal of such an effort would be to encourage movement toward the rule of law and human rights. This would include abandoning torture. Democracy might come later, after a period of gradual improvement, he said.

Mr. Janning said sub-Saharan Africa has “a high potential for crisis, and this affects Europe much more than the United States” because of the former’s proximity to the beleaguered continent.

Mr. Janning also suggested that a stabilized Ukraine, if Russia permits, could be closer to European Union membership than Turkey. He said Turkey must deliver in deeds and institute laws carrying out major requirements of EU membership.

A deeper question is where Europe ends. It is more difficult to determine a boundary in the east than in the south, because the Mediterranean forms a natural boundary between Europe and Africa, Mr. Janning noted.

However, he added, “In some ways Morocco [in North Africa] is closer than Armenia or Georgia.”

Right to bear arms

Who has the right to bear arms? That is not a constitutional question for Robin Orr Blair. Of course, he is not talking about Americans and firearms.

Mr. Blair is Scotland’s primary arbiter on matters of heraldry and coats of arms. With the ancient and exalted title of Lord Lyon King of Arms, Mr. Blair represents the monarchy and presides over a legal court that holds real civil powers in Scotland.

The misuse of a coat of arms can result in financial penalties and the forced removal of the offending artwork. If someone illegally displayed a coat of arms on a luxury car, for example, Mr. Blair could order it physically cut away from the body of the vehicle.

“Nobody has the right to bear arms,” Mr. Blair said on a visit to Washington last week. “Whether they’re entitled or not depends on whether they apply to me, and I get to decide.”

The last time he visited Washington, Mr. Blair presented a coat of arms to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to honor his Scottish heritage. Mr. Powell traces his Scottish roots through his mother, Maud Ariel McKoy.

“He said that was one of the proudest days of his life,” Mr. Blair said.

One needs a Scottish ancestor to apply to the Lord Lyon. England has a similar system through the College of Arms in London.

Mr. Blair became the Lord Lyon in 2001, after a career as a Scottish lawyer. He admitted that before he took the position, he knew little about the shields, crowns, mythical beasts and other ancient symbols originally designed to identify medieval nobility. Today, the coats of arms are elaborately illuminated on parchment instead of emblazoned on a shield.

Mr. Blair also is fascinated by the great interest Americans hold for Scotland. He attended his first Scottish-American highland festival in 2003 at Stone Mountain, Ga., and was awed by the thousands who attended. Such festivals in Scotland are modest affairs, he said.

“I am fascinated that so many people are so interested in Scottish heritage,” he said.

Mr. Blair addressed the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington on Friday, after visiting St. Andrew’s societies in New York and Philadelphia.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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