- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 26, 2006

There you go again

Daniel Mitchell’s attack on the 30-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (“Using tax money to push more taxes,” Commentary, Wednesday) brought to mind Ronald Reagan’s classic line from the 1980 presidential debates: “There you go again.” These tired arguments have been trotted out periodically by OECD-bashers. Repeating them a thousand times does not make them true. The fact is that the OECD does not advocate higher taxes.

I know because my organization represents the views of the U.S. business community, hardly a proponent of higher taxes, to the OECD. We recently called upon Congress and the Bush administration to fully fund the OECD in the current budgetary cycle.

Simply put, the OECD plays a vital role for both the public and private sectors as a key source of objective and relevant economic data and analysis. It offers policy guidance for the identification and elimination of regulatory and other obstacles to improved economic competitiveness.

It has issued authoritative guidelines in such areas as corporate governance, and, yes, international taxation, including recommendations to rein in overseas bank secrecy, which provides cover for criminals and terrorists. (The latter has been misrepresented repeatedly by critics such as Mr. Mitchell as an attack on low-tax jurisdictions.)

Moreover, the OECD has provided a unique forum for the negotiation of international agreements to curtail bribery and corruption and is playing an important role in raising public awareness of the costs and risks of product counterfeiting and piracy. Its outreach work to nonmember countries, particularly China, offers an unparalleled opportunity to convey sound policy advice to emerging economies.

In short, the OECD is a valuable international institution meriting full support by the U.S. government and the American business community.


Senior vice president

United States Council for

International Business


Confronting division in Cyprus

I would like to draw your readers’ attention to a serious omission in the article “U.S. ready to trade with Turkish Cypriots” (World, Tuesday).

While asserting that the American government is laying the foundation for direct trade with the northern part of Cyprus in a bid to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots, the article neglects to mention that this area is still occupied by Turkey and is isolated only because Ankara refuses to withdraw the some 40,000 troops stationed there in blatant violation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Free trade with this illegal entity will not bring reunification of the island. It will only perpetuate Cyprus’ division because it will give legitimacy to that secessionist regime. Moreover, it is a myth that the government of Cyprus is economically strangling the Turkish-Cypriot community. Shortly after Cyprus’ accession to the European Union, the government proposed the opening of the port of Famagusta — along with the return of the port city of Famagusta, which has been abandoned since the Turkish invasion — for joint operation and direct trade by both communities under the auspices of the EU. This step would be linked to the simultaneous return of the adjacent city of Varosha, also in the Turkish-held portion of the island and abandoned since the 1974 invasion, to its original inhabitants. The Turkish side flatly rejected it.

The Cyprus government encouraged and welcomed the EU’s decision on Friday to release some 139 million euro in aid to the Turkish Cypriots. This money had been needlessly tied up by attempts to attach preconditions and political stipulations to its release. In Cyprus, some 10,000 Turkish Cypriots travel each day from the occupied territory to work in the republic. Because of the increased economic activity between the two communities, the gross domestic product of the occupied area has doubled in just two years. In fact, the total monetary benefits provided to the Turkish Cypriots by the Republic of Cyprus and their Greek Cypriot compatriots are more than $600 million annually.

One of Turkey’s EU obligations is recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and the opening of Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot-flagged ships and planes this year. Those sincerely wishing for the reunification of the island should stop backing Turkey’s attempts to evade its EU obligations by setting preconditions, such as the simultaneous opening of ports and airports in the occupied area, under the bogus excuse that they are helping “de-isolate” the Turkish Cypriot community. They should advise Turkey to withdraw its occupation troops from Cyprus, instead.


Press counselor

Embassy of Cyprus


Democracy in Ethiopia

If the FBI found guns, explosives and evidence linking persons to plots to blow up targets in the United States, would The Washington Times’ headline read, “American leader defends campaign against its critics”? Would the lead sentence in the article begin, “President Bush bluntly defended his government’s crackdown on dissenters?”

Is the responsibility of the Ethiopian government to protect its citizens from domestic terrorism less important than the responsibility of the U.S. government to protect its citizens from violent acts intended to kill, maim and terrorize?

We assume that the article “Ethiopian leader defends campaign against critics” (Page 1, Thursday) did not intentionally imply such a reckless and unsettling position. We also assume The Washington Times is unaware of the inaccuracy of some of the statements made in the article.

For example, the European Union and the World Bank did not “rechannel about $375 million worth of development assistance to [U.N. agencies]” but to the regional governments. These regional governments make up the multiethnic state of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Further, The Washington Times failed to mention that despite opposition parties claiming “to have been robbed of an outright victory,” the May 2005 elections were declared overall “free and fair” by European and American observers. Also, despite some opposition members refusing to take their seats in the legislature, the majority of the opposition, respecting the will of the people, has done so. Quoting the prime minister: “There are many opposition members in parliament, and they criticize the government all day, quite freely.” This is democracy.

Undemocratic are opposition leaders who, having failed to win a majority in the parliament, incite ethnic violence to circumvent the electoral process, undermine the rule of law and attempt to take power by force. Undemocratic are opposition party members working under the guise of journalists who print and broadcast misinformation and disinformation intended to mislead Ethiopia’s urban poor to carry out acts of street violence on their behalf. Undemocratic are the small but vocal groups within the Ethiopian diaspora who manipulate the American political system and deceive the American public by raising money to buy weapons to overthrow a democratically elected government.

While Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has asked the international community to listen to the evidence against the defendants — in any other country known as due process of law — the opposition leaders say they will not speak in court even if they are compelled to appear. This is the same tactic being used in court by Saddam Hussein. This, too, is not democracy.

A better option for cable choice

I’m one of those cable subscribers who pays more than $70 for digital cable and watches 15 of the 200 channels. According to Oxygen Media Chairman Geraldine Laybourne (“Cable choice now,” Commentary, Saturday), I’m supposed to pay more for cable in the hopes that I might discover her channel one day amid the chafe of 200 channels.

I think a better option is to allow cable choice and add one or two promotion channels. These promotion channels would rotate every few days and give the viewers a chance to look at options outside their choices — all with a tagline of “to add to your lineup, please call. …” This makes more sense in giving visibility to channels such as Oxygen than relying on random surfing to advertise.



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