- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2006

Greece and Macedonia’s fate

In his Commentary column “Greece and the Balkans” (Tuesday), Greek Ambassador Alexandros P. Mallias refers to the problems of Kosovo. He fails to mention the problems created by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with Greece.

The area now referred to as Macedonia was known as Vardarska Banovina.Josip Broz Tito, former leader of Yugoslavia, renamed it the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia mainly because he had a territorial agenda. His aim was to take over Greek Macedonia and its vital seaport of Thessaloniki. The current attempt by FYROM to falsify the history of Greek Macedonia and its failure to negotiate the name with Greece is also an indication that Tito’s territorial plans have not changed and have been adopted by his successors.

It should be noted that the country has been admitted to the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the condition that the name will be negotiated with Greece. To date, FYROM has evaded negotiations with Greece related to the issue.

ATHANASIA GREGORIADES

New York

Alternatives to animal testing

Many thanks to The Washington Times for publishing an objective article on alternatives to vivisection (“PETA calls cell tests less beastly,” Culture, et cetera, Tuesday). Through its research, PETA — as well as many other groups and thousands of doctors — is aiding the phasing out of the outdated, wasteful practice of torturing and killing animals. PETA is showing us that there are ways to test products that are cheaper and more applicable to human health. For example, medical schools in England haven’t used animals for more than 100 years. Also, many companies do not test their products on animals. They use cell culture techniques, computer models and microchips described in the article.

One way we can help is to buy products from companies that do not test on animals. Another way is to eat less food from animal sources. Most important, educate yourself on this issue.

MARK CRIMAUDO

Candler, N.C.

Don’t make Taiwan a bargaining chip

Though Harlan Ullman’s ultimate goal of finding a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear standoff (“North Korean quandary,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) is commendable, I would urge American policy-makers not to view Taiwan’s future as a bargaining chip that can be traded whenever the U.S. needs Chinese support.

Mr. Ullman suggests that the United States can “take Taiwan independence off the table” in exchange for the support of the People’s Republic of China in dealing with the North Koreans, but in doing so, he overlooks two important facts. First, Taiwan already is a sovereign country whose destiny lies in the hands of its people, not in some backroom deal cooked up to persuade China to do the right thing. Second, Taiwan’s constitution and the current political climate make “unilateral” declarations of independence by the government all but impossible.

Though polls repeatedly show an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese favor the status quo (that is, de facto independence), who would we be as Americans to oppose Taiwan if its 23 million people should decide one day to make that independence official through their own democratic process? By entertaining the idea of denying Taiwanese their sovereign right to decide on their own future, aren’t we effectively taking the very idea of “democracy” off Taiwan’s own table?

As democracies, Taiwan and the United States place a premium on their respective citizens’ right to self-determination and expect other like-minded nations to respect those rights. Yet whenever the U.S. needs China’s assistance to further its own foreign agenda, calls invariably arise from the chattering class for Washington to dangle Taiwan’s future before China like a carrot in order to get Beijing to cooperate.

Taiwan and its government are fully aware of what is at stake both in the Taiwan Strait and on the Korean Peninsula and fully support efforts to achieve peaceful resolutions to both issues. Make no doubt about it, though: Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty are not for sale, no matter how many missiles Kim Jong-il may choose to test.

J. WRIGHT

Arlington

Tunisia has a healthy, safe embassy

Following your item “Knows his weeds” in Monday’s “Inside the Beltway” column, I would like to bring to your attention the following clarifications:

The information related to you by the public relations associate that a marijuana plant has found a home outside the left gate of the Tunisian Embassy is unfounded. The source claims he has taken pictures of the plant, but you certainly know there are millions of plants that look alike. Besides, your source, who by no means is an expert in botany, has certainly mistaken what he considers a marijuana plant for a possible wild plant growing outside of the embassy’s gate.

Furthermore, the gentleman should have contacted the embassy and informed it about the issue, but unfortunately, he took pictures of the embassy gate without the latter’s prior authorization, thus acting, in our view, against the professional standards and international law (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations) that protect embassies in foreign countries. We deem that this act could be construed as spying and infringing on the embassy’s sovereignty, with all the consequences that such an act may entail.

The Embassy of Tunisia strongly asserts that it is committed to a cleaner and healthier environment in Washington, including that of the embassy.

Both the District’s public health services department and a hired private waste-management company visit the embassy on a regular basis, weekly and monthly respectively, to make sure the embassy and its environment are clean and healthy. In addition, the embassy’s gardener is also taking care, on a daily basis, of the cleanliness of our garden.

ALI BEN SAID

Press counselor

Embassy of Tunisia

Washington

Kemp wrong on Voting Rights Act

Jack Kemp (“Voting rights ‘know-nothings,’ ” Commentary, yesterday) begins his column by misleadingly referring to “Today’s opponents of renewal of the Voting Rights Act.” The fact is that most of the act is permanent and so does not need to be renewed; much of what is up for renewal is uncontroversial as well. Just two sections in the act are being opposed — and rightly so.

Section 203 requires that some jurisdictions print ballots in foreign languages. This provision encourages ethnic balkanization, wastes the taxpayers’ money (because it is expensive to print these ballots and they are seldom used) and facilitates voter fraud (because only citizens can vote, and the ability to speak English is required for naturalization).

Section 5 requires some jurisdictions to get permission from the federal government before making any change in any procedure related to voting. There is no longer any rhyme or reason for jurisdictions to be subjected to this requirement. Why Texas and not Arkansas? Why Arizona and not New Mexico? Why some counties in North Carolina and not others? Why some boroughs in New York City but not the rest?

Worse, the principal use of Section 5 is no longer to stop racial discrimination but to require it — to require, that is, racial gerrymandering and the segregation of voting districts by race. This is hardly something that ought to be favored by the “Party of Lincoln,” to quote Mr. Kemp.

I have testified against these provisions before both houses of Congress, arguing that their extension not only would be bad policy, but would exceed Congress’ constitutional authority. (The testimony is posted at www.ceousa.org.) Mr. Kemp is right that “Our nation is a far different place from what it was in 1965.” The Voting Rights Act can reflect that reality and still protect every American’s right to vote, free from racial or ethnic discrimination.

ROGER CLEGG

President

Center for Equal Opportunity

Sterling, Va.

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