- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Katrina hits Europe

The victims of Hurricane Katrina included a surprising number of Europeans living along the Gulf Coast, British Ambassador David Manning said yesterday.

Mr. Manning said the relief efforts included frantic work by diplomats at consulates in the South, who helped relocate Europeans or reunite them with their families.

“The number of British residents helped was much greater than any of us imagined,” he said at a conference on Europe sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He did not cite figures.

They included British subjects employed along the Gulf, married to Americans or related to U.S. residents. He called it a “tangled web of family ties.”

“The EU often doesn’t seem present on the human scale,” he said. “But here it was.”

Mr. Manning also referred to the relief offered by European nations to help the American victims of the hurricane.

“When the U.S. needed help, the EU stepped up; just as when the EU need help, the U.S. steps up,” he said.

The ambassador cited the relief efforts to demonstrate the close relationship between the United States and Europe, despite trade differences or anti-American rumblings in some intellectual or journalistic circles.

“Our problems are not that we have consulted too much. Our problems are we have consulted too little,” he said.

Mr. Manning called President Bush’s latest visit to Europe “a sign of the importance he attaches to the relationship.”

He said Britain’s goal as the current holder of the EU presidency is to strengthen security and promote economic reforms.

Citing the terrorist bombings in London, the close elections in Germany and the uncertain fate of the EU constitution, Mr. Manning said, “Europe is in the middle of a profound phase of its future.”

He said voters in Europe are “asking their leaders some tough questions” about security, job growth and retirement benefits.

“We must build a more flexible Europe better able to create jobs, … better equipped to meet the challenges of a global economy,” he said.

An earlier panel dealt with economic challenges facing the trans-Atlantic relationship.

Eric Stewart, deputy assistant secretary for Europe at the Commerce Department, said most of his time is spent dealing with U.S.-EU trade disputes, but he remains optimistic about the future.

“Bold new steps must be taken to face global trade challenges,” he said, referring to the growing strength of China. “The U.S. and the EU must be nimble, they must be quick.

“We need to spend less time arguing over disputes,” he added. “I’d rather spend more time talking about the positive parts of our relationship.”

Grant Aldonas, director of economic policy at the German Marshall Fund, warned about the demographic changes facing the aging populations in the United States and Europe.

“If we fail to innovate and fail to raise productivity, our living standards will fall,” he said.

Grinding process’

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan praised Afghan voters for defying Taliban terrorists when they cast their ballots in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

“There was no sense people were staying away from the election out of fear,” Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann told reporters in Washington in a telephone press conference from the Afghan capital, Kabul.

He cited progress in Afghanistan’s “grinding process” that is developing a democracy in a country ruled by warlords and the fanatical Islamic Taliban movement, according to the Associated Press’ State Department correspondent Barry Schweid.

“They are doing things that never happened here before,” Mr. Neumann said.

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


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