- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2007

EU to-do’ list

The German ambassador declared Europe the protector of the values of the Enlightenment, as he offered a laundry list of goals his government will pursue in the double-barreled presidency of the European Union and the Group of Eight industrialized nations.

Ambassador Klaus Scharioth added that one of the most pressing issues facing the Continent — the quest for energy security — will not be solved under Germany’s six-month leadership of the European Union or yearlong presidency of the G-8. However, he said both organizations need to adopt measures to prevent a foreign supplier of energy from “blackmailing” its clients.

“We must make it impossible for outside actors to blackmail any one of us,” Mr. Scharioth told reporters at the National Press Club last week.

Russia last week cut off crude oil supplies to Germany and Eastern European countries in a confrontation over transit charges through an oil pipeline that runs across neighboring Belarus. A year ago, Russia shut down natural gas supplies to Ukraine in another pricing dispute.

Mr. Scharioth noted that the European Union, which reached 27 members after Bulgaria and Romania joined this month, remains a strong partner with the United States as champions of religious tolerance, reason, democracy and human rights.

“We need a very strong Europe, but we also need a very close trans-Atlantic relationship,” he said. “We are the ones — Europe and America — who stand for the values of the Enlightenment.”

Mr. Scharioth said most of the problems facing Europe are not on the Continent. However, he pledged EU support in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instability in Lebanon, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region and the future of Somalia after the defeat of Islamist forces.

In Europe, he said, the bloc must work to prevent a resurgence of violence in Serbia’s restive Kosovo region, where ethnic Albanians are agitating for independence.

Kosovo ‘milestone’

Albanian-Americans are praising two members of Congress for introducing a resolution calling for independence for the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Reps. Tom Lantos, California Democrat and chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the panel’s most senior Republican member, jointly sponsored the measure.

“The introduction of this resolution … is another milestone in the 18-year work of the Civic League,” said Joe DioGuardi, president of the Albanian American Civic League.

The United States and the European Union oppose independence for Kosovo, which has been administered by the United Nations since 1999.

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the U.N. mediator for Kosovo, is expected to release a report on the U.N. position after Serbia’s elections Sunday.

Greek envoy honored

Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias this week received the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award at Sunday’s salute to the assassinated civil rights leader.

Mr. Mallias was honored for his work for peace in the Balkans. Before his appointment as ambassador, Mr. Mallias served in several diplomatic positions in which he was responsible for Greek and European Union policies toward Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania.

In accepting the award, the ambassador said Greeks were inspired by King’s civil rights struggle in their own fight for democracy against a Greek military dictatorship in the 1960s.

Mr. Mallias also noted that the Greek Embassy honored King by adopting the Brunetta C. Hill Elementary School in Birmingham, Ala. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a former student of that school.

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

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