Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Give the Nationals their due

The Washington area has a major-league baseball team. Unfortunately, it is not being treated as our local team by our local paper, The Washington Times. On Sunday, the Sunday Sports Times front page was dedicated to the Wizards (very appropriate), the Kentucky Derby (understandable) and Dan Daly’s column. So, maybe Page 2 would cover the Nationals, but no, it was just busy stuff, followed by more stuff on Page 3. Page 4 had a story about a baseball book and a collectibles column. Page 5 had soccer and NASCAR coverage.

Because this is baseball season, I figured I would be getting close, and finally, on Page 6, came the scores, but for everyone, nothing special for the Nationals. Then, Page 7 was about the Yankees and Orioles (who?). Tucked back on Page 8 were the Nationals, with the National and American League Roundup. Well, at least it was not on Page 16 with the weather and golf, but then at least it would have had back-page billing.

I am sorry; this is not supporting the home team. The Washington Times should place the home-team scores on the Sports front page and give our local team the coverage it deserves from a local paper. We may be third in the National League East, but the team should be first at home.



Beijing sows division on Taiwan

As described in “Panda Diplomacy” (Commentary, Sunday), China’s red-carpet treatment of the leaders of Taiwan’s two opposition parties improves the atmosphere of cross-strait relations in the aftermath of China’s passage of the “anti-secession law” in March. However, because China has not changed any of the substance of its policy toward Taiwan and it continues to refuse to deal directly with Taiwan’s duly elected president. Beijing’s new diplomacy must be seen as an exercise in forming a “united front” — allying with the lesser enemy in attacking the main enemy — or in “divide and conquer.”

It is regrettable that Taiwan’s politicians failed to reach a broad consensus before engaging China. In so doing prematurely, they unwittingly helped relieve the pressure Beijing faced for its bellicosity while deepening the chasm in the Taiwanese society.



Getting it wrong on Turkey

Andrew Borowiec’s article “Europe pressures Turkey to curb corruption” (World, May 5) is riddled with inaccuracies and oversimplifications of Turkey’s policies. Turkey’s integration process with the European Union entered a new phase with the union’s decision in December to begin accession talks.

Mr. Borowiec’s article ignores more than 200 new laws and the wide-ranging reforms being pursued by Turkey for more than two decades to strengthen its civil society. At the forefront of our efforts is a commitment to greater transparency, accountability and openness and other anti-corruption measures and their enactment.

It’s true that ongoing activities since the European Union’s December decision have not been as headline-grabbing as the dramatic period that led up to the decision. However, downplaying Turkey’s myriad reforms and its leadership throughout the region does not do justice to Turkey’s vision and determination or the real work being done on the ground.


First secretary

Embassy of Turkey


Human rights in the former Soviet Union

While I share the sentiments of Jeffrey Kuhner’s Commentary column (” ‘White Revolution’ stirring in Belarus,” Wednesday), unfortunately, I cannot agree with his assessment.

Russia is not the major hurdle to political change in Belarus (although President Vladimir Putin facilitates President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule). The situation is far more complex.

Mr. Lukashenko’s illegitimate regime has atomized the political opposition in the country (such as the disappearance of potential rivals Viktor Gonchar and Yuri Zakharenko and intimidating others like Anatoly Lebedko, Mikhail Marinich and Mikhail Chigir), crushed the independent press and prevented NGOs from functioning effectively.

While many, if not most, Belarusians may hope that one day their country may be transformed into a state akin to Poland, Mr. Lukashenko’s control of the Belarusian KGB (he hasn’t even bothered to change its name), the Ministry of the Interior, legislators and judges will probably make “regime change” a long-term project. It is significant that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice finally prominently included Belarus in the State Department’s agenda.

We should thank Rep. Christopher Smith, New Jersey Republican, and the U.S. Helsinki Commission for keeping the Belarus Democracy Act of 2004 alive — it was unanimously passed by both houses of Congress and quickly signed into law by President Bush late last year.

I only wish I could share Mr. Kuhner’s optimism that the U.S. bureaucracy will stop treating Belarus as an afterthought.


Adjunct associate professor

Washington College of Law

American University



President Bush’s acknowledgment on May 7 in Riga that the “captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history” was a bold and historically accurate statement (“Bush urges elections in Belarus,” Page 1, Sunday).

Mr. Bush, who did not mince words in Riga, should make another highly symbolic gesture to underscore his message that the freedom of small nations should not be expendable.

He could do this by participating in the 50th-anniversary commemoration of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, to be held in Budapest next year. The Hungarian Revolution was the first major challenge to Soviet imperialism in Central Europe after World War II.

While the world watched, a small nation desperately sought to regain its freedom and succeeded in threatening the badly shaken Soviet leadership, unmasking the true nature of Soviet-imposed communism, turning former apologists of Stalinism worldwide and contributing to the collapse 34 years later of the Soviet system and Russian domination of Central and Eastern Europe.

That collapse completed the liberation of all of Europe — a liberation postponed by the division of the continent 60 years ago. Celebrating the Hungarian Revolution would commemorate the triumph of freedom and democracy over totalitarianism and constitute a fitting capstone to the Moscow celebrations this month.

Mr. Bush’s participation would be greeted with great enthusiasm by Central and Eastern Europeans who were deprived of freedom for decades as a result of “one of the greatest wrongs of history” and would strengthen America’s ties with its new allies.



American Hungarian Federation

of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.


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