- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

Black Sea alert

The president of Romania came to Washington to raise the alarm about conflicts in the Black Sea region and lobby for his government’s goal of stabilizing the region and creating a democratic bridge to Asia and the Middle East.

Traian Basescu told the Council on Foreign Relations last week that the United States and Europe must do all they can to solve the “frozen” internal conflicts in Georgia and Moldova and the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

He described as “black holes” the ethnic disputes in Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions, in Moldova’s Transdniester area and in the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.

He said he raised the issues when he met with President Bush and pledged Romania’s help in promoting security and economic reform throughout the Black Sea area.

“Many of the transnational threats facing Europe emit from this region,” Mr. Basescu told the council. “We cannot leave the countries of this region as victims of European history, as unstable borderlands outside Eastern Europe.”

He called for the United States, the European Union, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to join forces to deal with the problems in that region.

“In her own right, Romania will build bridges, not a defensive shield, by promoting freedom, democracy, prosperity and stability in the Black Sea region,” Mr. Basescu said.

“The persistence of lawless black holes threatens the security of Europe by the spilling over of organized crime, human and arms trafficking, and transnational terrorism.”

Mr. Basescu was on his first visit to Washington since he was elected in December.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, who addresses the United States-Indonesia Society.

• Pedro C. Aspe, former finance minister of Mexico; Andres Rozental, president of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations; John P. Manley, former deputy prime minister and finance minister of Canada; and Thomas D’Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. They address the Council on Foreign Relations about the future of North America.

Tomorrow

• Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who meets President Bush to discuss democratic reforms in the Middle East, terrorism and other issues. On Wednesday, the king meets in a closed session with members of the House International Relations Committee.

• Makoto Utsumi, a former Japanese vice minister of finance, who addresses the Inter-American Development Bank. Mr. Utsumi is chief executive officer of the Japan Credit Rating Agency.

Wednesday

• Nicholas Le Pan, Canada’s superintendent of financial institutions, who addresses the annual conference of the Institute of International Bankers.

• Mark Durkan of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labor Party, who attends the annual American Ireland Fund gala. On Thursday, he meets with congressional supporters, including Friends of Ireland.

Thursday

• Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who meets President Bush for the annual St. Patrick’s Day ceremony at the White House.

• Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch and an Israeli member of the Trilateral Anti-Incitement Committee, which includes Palestinian and American members. He addresses invited guests of the Israel Project.

• Nozima Kamalova, director of the Legal Aid Society in Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Ildar Shafiev, a member of the society; and Vitaly Ponomaryov, director of the Central Asian Program at Moscow’s Memorial Human Rights Center. They address invited guests at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on human rights in Uzbekistan.

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

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