- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

Advice from Greece

Except for Australian Prime Minister John Howard, the presence of about two dozen other conservative political leaders of the International Democrat Union went almost unnoticed in Washington last week.

Mr. Howard, who met with President Bush, is chairman of the IDU.

The other leaders included Fanny Palli-Petralia, alternate culture minister of Greece, who was representing Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis.

Mrs. Palli-Petralia, who served as coordinator of the Olympic Games in Greece last year, had come fresh from a visit to China, passing on some advice to officials there about being an Olympic host country in 2008.

“It is the most difficult challenge for them, yes, but it is also a big opportunity to show the world the new face of China,” she told our correspondent Ann Geracimos.

“We worked hard, and we managed. Now we have the know-how and work with many countries. Even London already has asked us for collaboration for 2012.”

Mrs. Palli-Petralia warned the Chinese that security should be their main concern.

“The [Greek] minister of public order visited China, and we are in conference with China about security,” she said.

Many Greeks questioned the cost of the Athens Olympics, which ran to more than $13 billion, including $1 billion on security.

“It was worth it anyway,” Mrs. Palli-Petralia said. “Now we have the legacy — a material legacy with all the infrastructure and venues, and I firmly believe that profits will come after.

“Also the immaterial legacy is there, too, of course. We now have a self-confidence, which is something very important. It is a power for us for the future. We showed to the whole world that we are a country, of course, with history and culture, but also a country and people in motion for the future.”

The former President George Bush, who has visited Greece for a cruise in each of the past eight or nine years, was among the Olympic visitors, she noted. “He knows the Greek islands better than we do, and he is a very good swimmer.”

During her visit to Washington, Mrs. Palli-Petralia and the other IDU leaders met with the president as well as R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs and a former ambassador to Greece, and Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat and a Greek American.

Mrs. Palli-Petralia, a lawyer and one of the few female members of the Greek parliament, will chair the IDU conference in Athens in October, when the focus will be on women facing global challenges.

“There won’t most likely be women leaders from Iraq because we don’t have an [Iraqi] party that participates in the IDU,” she said, but the group could invite an Iraqi female leader as a keynote speaker or guest.

Czech changes

Czech Ambassador Martin Palous is saying goodbye to several key members of the Czech Embassy staff whose tours of duty in Washington are ending soon.

“As a matter of fact, I, myself, arrived in Washington almost four years ago [and] therefore, my own posting as ambassador to the United States will, over some time, also come to an end,” he wrote in the latest edition of the Czech Embassy newsletter.

“My departure, although, is not as imminent as my other colleagues’ journey back to the Czech Republic.”

Mr. Palous will be losing Vratislav Janda, his deputy chief of mission, Eduard Metela, head of the administrative section, and Jakub Skalnik of the cultural section. The ambassador’s new deputy will be Jaroslav Kurfurst, former head of the department of security policy.

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

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