- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nationalist threat

A top U.S. diplomat delivered a blunt and dire warning to the Bosnian parliament on a recent visit to that Balkan nation, still recovering from the genocidal civil war of the 1990s.

Nationalists threatening the delicate ethnic balance of the Bosnian government won majorities in the October legislative elections, causing officials from Washington to Brussels to fear that Bosnian Muslims, Croats or Serbs will secede from the confederation of 4.5 million people.

“Let me be clear, lest I be misunderstood. Nationalism has been tried here, with terrible consequences,” Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said in an address to parliament last week.

“I have said before that nationalism is like cheap alcohol: First, it makes you drunk; then, it makes you blind; and then, it kills you. It is a lethal addiction.”

He called the elections “a step backward” that derailed negotiations on constitutional and economic reform that were making progress before the campaign began.

“Just one year ago, Bosnia’s leaders were bringing this country to the future. They debated not whether, but how, to build the new state institutions required to join the European Union, to foster economic growth, to fight organized crime and terrorism, and to create a modern, unified military firmly under civilian control and fully compatible with NATO,” Mr. Fried said.

“But in the election campaign of 2006, leading political figures stopped talking about a shared political future and began speaking another dangerous language from another time.”

In the Muslim-Croat federation, politicians called for the abolition of the other political entity, the Serb Republic. Serbs responded by demanding a referendum on independence or annexation by Serbia.

For Mr. Fried, the ethnic political divisiveness gives him nightmares of the warfare among Serbs, Croats and Muslims that turned Bosnia-Herzegovina into a killing field until the Clinton administration brought the warring factions together under the 1995 Dayton accords.

He expressed his disappointment that Bosnia remains behind, while most other nations born out of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia have been admitted to NATO and the European Union or are on the path toward membership.

Mr. Fried told the lawmakers that the United States is eager to assist Bosnia’s move forward but the ethnic bickering must stop.

“A Bosnia that fails or stagnates will be alone,” he said. “But a Bosnia that seeks progress will find a ready partner in the U.S. My country will help bring you into Europe and the trans-Atlantic community.”

Green embassy

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, is environmentally correct from its solar-heated water system to its bicycle racks outside.

The embassy is so energy-efficient that it is the first American diplomatic complex to receive certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit coalition of building trade firms that promote Earth-friendly construction.

“Environmental stewardship means setting a good example,” said John Crouse, a founder of CMSS Architects, which designed the embassy.

“I think its helpful for people around the world to see the United States making a commitment to protect the environment in the nations that host our diplomatic missions,” he added in announcing the certification this week.

The embassy was recognized for such features as its parklike setting with 41 percent of the site reserved for open space. The embassy encourages its diplomats to find ways to get to work other than driving. It is close to public transportation and provides bicycle racks, along with showers for sweaty riders.

It will save more than 136,000 gallons of water a year through various plumbing features. The embassy’s solar-powered water heater consumes two-thirds less energy than other types, and its ventilation, heating and a/c systems are carbon-free, Mr. Crouse said.

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

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