- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Mission accomplished

Sorin Ducaru came to Washington more than five hears ago with a cowboy heart and a diplomat’s mind, determined to raise the profile of Romania as the youngest foreign ambassador in the U.S. capital.

He left last week to further serve his nation as ambassador to NATO. Mr. Ducaru arrived in Washington in the summer of 2001 at age 37 and by September realized that his time in the United States would be the most unique chapter in his diplomatic career, as the world exploded in a war against terrorism and Romania volunteered troops to the U.S.-led coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Ducaru, who has admired the American cowboy since he was a youth with a cowboy hat in the old Romania under a communist dictatorship, left town with an even greater appreciation for the Americans he and his wife, Carmen, met here.

“Almost five years and a half ago, when we came to Washington and presented the letters of credentials to President George W. Bush, we were just married and the youngest ambassadorial couple in Washington, D.C., representing a new generation of Romanians, sharing the values of freedom, democracy, market economy and inspired by the ‘American Dream,’” he wrote in a farewell letter to friends.

“We arrived with a lot of enthusiasm, energy and great ambitions for our country and its bilateral relationship with the United States of America, especially that of enhancing our strategic partnership, boosting economic ties and endorsing Romania as an ally of the United States within NATO.”

His diplomatic efforts in Washington helped win U.S. support for Romania’s membership in NATO, which it joined two year ago, raise the country’s profile in the United States and spur record levels of U.S.-Romanian trade.

Mr. Ducaru said he was tempted to declare his “mission accomplished,” except that he realized “such accomplishments are just a step … toward greater responsibility [and] hard work.”

Mr. Ducaru came to Washington with his wife and left with a family. A daughter, Maria-Teodora, now 3, and a son, Matei-Nicolae, now 9 months, were born here.

Greece’s journey

“Odyssey: The Journey,” a series of images painted in wax, captured the mood of classicism, as Greece inaugurated its new embassy and reopened the old one as the ambassador’s residence.

A text accompanying the paintings by Thomas Stamatis Xenakis read, “Odysseus exemplifies that god/man duality in many ways,” emphasizing the virtues that are “god-like and human at the same time, such as heroism, leadership, accountability for one’s missteps.”

Odysseus, known outside Greece as Ulysses, is famous for helping conquer Troy through a ruse only to be punished by the gods, who doomed him to wander for years through strange environments.

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly session, arrived in Washington for the inauguration as well as to brief U.S. officials on the increasingly prominent role Greece is playing in a Balkan region mending slowly from the implosion of Yugoslavia and the bloody strife that followed, our correspondent Gus Constantine reports.

Also attending the opening ceremony at the embassy in the 2200 block of Massachusetts Avenue Northwest were Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, the Maryland Democrat who is retiring this year after 30 years of service; a State Department delegation headed by Undersecretary for Management Henrietta Fore; foreign diplomats; prominent members of the Greek-American community; and many friends of Greece.

Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias expressed his gratitude to all those who contributed to the completion of the building, particularly his predecessors, Ambassadors Alexander Philon and George Savvaides.

Mr. Sarbanes said the new facilities “reflect the modern face of Greece,” which in recent years has effectively presided over the U.N. Security Council and the European Union and hosted the 2004 Olympic Games.

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

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