- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2006

‘History’s caldron’

Greece’s foreign minister urged Washington insiders to help her country promote the inclusion of the entire Balkans region in the European Union to prevent renewed conflict in an area that she called “history’s caldron.”

Dora Bakoyannis told the Center for Strategic and International Studies this week that she hoped policy-makers will pay attention to southeastern Europe, even though it “is not one of the danger zones preoccupying the world right now.”

“I think you will find that, while ‘history’s caldron,’ as the Balkans have been called, may not be boiling, they are still simmering and will continue to require careful attention for some time to come,” she said.

Serbia and its restive province of Kosovo remain a potential flash point, as the ethnic-Albanian Muslim majority in that region continues to demand independence and Serbs continue to resist.

“Serbia, a key country for the region’s stability, is still sadly haunted by its past,” she said, noting that the European Union has halted membership talks over Serbia’s failure to apprehend war crime suspects linked to wars of the 1990s.

“When we talk about southeastern Europe, we must first remember that the biggest and most successful postwar exercise in conflict prevention has been the progressive enlargement of the EU,” Mrs. Bakoyannis said.

“The European Union has successfully tied former enemies together with bonds of shared interests and benefits and has consolidated democracy in former dictatorships with remarkable success.

“The European Union has made the first half of the last century look even more distant that it is.”

Bush to meet Abe

President Bush and Japan’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, will hold their first meeting in November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam, Japan’s Kyodo News service reported yesterday.

The two leaders agreed to the meeting during a telephone call yesterday. Mr. Bush also invited Mr. Abe to visit him in Washington at a later date, the report said. Mr. Abe was elected prime minister on Tuesday, replacing Junichiro Koizumi.

‘Icon’ of Scotland

Britain’s Prince Andrew came to Washington this week to promote Scotland’s most famous export but acknowledged that he never touches the “stuff.”

That “stuff” is scotch, that distilled romance of barley and pure Scottish water, heralded in song and story for centuries as the “water of life,” or “uisge beatha” (ushka beha) in Scots Gaelic.

“I’ve never actually tried the stuff,” Andrew, the Duke of York, said at a British Embassy reception. However, he added, because of its vast worldwide popularity, “it must have something magical.”

Andrew, Britain’s honorary ambassador for trade and investment, helped Gavin Hewitt, chief executive officer of Britain’s Scotch Whisky Association, and Peter Cressey, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, kick off the celebration of whiskey at the Tuesday night reception hosted by British Ambassador David Manning.

Yesterday, Andrew, Mr. Hewitt and Mr. Cressey attended the inauguration of a reconstructed distillery at George Washington’s historic home, Mount Vernon. Washington became one of the biggest producers of whiskey in post-Colonial America, after his plantation manager, a Scotsman named James Anderson, persuaded him to begin distilling the spirit in 1797.

Mr. Hewitt, a retired British ambassador, cited the impressive statistics that make scotch Scotland’s most important product: It is sold in 200 markets worldwide; it far outsells cognac in France; it accounted for $5 billion in sales last year when Scottish distillers produced 1 billion bottles of scotch.

“That is 31 bottles a second,” he said.

Mr. Hewitt urged Americans to “visit Scotland, visit our distilleries, but keep drinking it here.”

The United States is Scotland’s largest export market for scotch.

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

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