- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

Czech global view

The Czech Republic and other former Soviet bloc nations of Eastern Europe need the United States and its European critics to settle their disputes over Iraq and other foreign policy issues, said Czech Ambassador Martin Palous.

“We simply cannot afford to be given a choice to side with Europe or with America. We need them to work together to defend freedom against all the threats, old or new, emerging in our increasingly and more globalized world,” he told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“We need a pro-American Europe and a pro-European United States. We need both of them as close allies.”

Mr. Palous, who arrived here three weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, noted how world sympathy for the United States has faded.



“Both here in the United States and in most European countries, the public discourse has been dominated ever since by all sorts of explosive, value-charged questions, having power to divide the population into antagonistic camps whose inhabitants fight fiercely against each other,” he said.

Mr. Palous, in his last speech of his four-year tour of duty in Washington, addressed the American Friends of the Czech Republic and the American Friends of Slovakia on the 16th anniversary of the “Velvet Revolution” that ousted the communists in the former Czechoslovakia. The two nations peacefully separated in 1993.

The ambassador said his country has looked to the United States for global leadership since the fall of communism.

“We need the United States to be strong and successful in the world’s leadership, and … our place in history in the world is and will be in the future in the U.S.-led coalition of the willing,” he added.

The Czech Republic has 90 troops in Iraq.

Mr. Palous thanked the United States for its support of Czech membership in NATO and the European Union.

“The United States, indeed, has honored fully its commitments to helping us return to the family of European democracies,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the relationship between the Czech Republic … and the United States is stronger than ever before.”

Gateway to the Gulf

The ambassador from Bahrain is praising two congressional committees for approving a free-trade agreement between his country and the United States.

Ambassador Naser Al Belooshi said he hopes both houses of Congress will endorse the agreement soon after the Thanksgiving recess. The deal would remove tariffs on all items traded between the two countries.

The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees unanimously approved the agreement last week.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain is most grateful to the leadership of the [two committees]. The action demonstrates this mutually beneficial economic relationship can complement our well-established social, military and political relationships,” Mr. Al Belooshi said.

The Persian Gulf nation has been the home base for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet for 50 years, and Bahrain is considered a key Middle East ally in the war on terrorism.

Mr. Al Belooshi said his country is considered the “Gateway to the Gulf” because of its financial power in the region. Bahrain has a gross domestic product of $900 billion.

Voice of liberty

A former reporter for U.S. News & World Report took over this month as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and promised to continue the goal of presenting “balanced, accurate and comprehensive” information.

Jeffrey Trimble, who assumed his position Nov. 1, served as assistant managing editor, foreign editor and Moscow bureau chief for the magazine.

He replaced Thomas A. Dine, the longest-serving president, who retired after eight years. He is now chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco.

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

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