- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Slavery apology

The German Embassy this week expressed “profoundly” Europe’s regrets for its role in the international slave trade but warned that slavery still exists in many parts of the world 200 years after Britain abolished its role in shipping Africans to the Americas.

“The barbarism of the trans-Atlantic slave trade stands out in the history of humanity in terms of its magnitude, organized nature and especially its negation of the human dignity of the victims,” the embassy said in distributing the official apology of the European Union.

“While Europe was pioneering the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, European merchants took off to enslave the African continent.”

Germany, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member European Union, added, “The European Union acknowledges and profoundly regrets their tragic plight.”

The embassy distributed the apology as European diplomatic missions throughout the United States and other countries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the foundation upon which the European Union was built.

The statement notes that the anniversary of the end of the slave trade helps focus attention on the current plight of women sold into prostitution and children forced into sweatshop labor.

“This anniversary should serve as a timely reminder that slavery is still a common practice in many parts of the world and that modern forms like bonded labor and human trafficking are spreading more and more,” the statement said.

“The various forms of modern slavery add up to a booming international trade, making billions of dollars at the expense of millions of victims. Therefore, there can be no room for complacency. …

“It is the EU’s firm hope that we can prevent recurrence of the massive human suffering that is being commemorated today.”

Securing trade

Afghan Ambassador Said T. Jawad recognizes that trade and investment are vital elements of national security for his country, as it continues its struggle to rebuild and resist a resurgence of Taliban terrorism.

Mr. Jawad earlier this month hosted an investment summit at the Afghan Embassy, during which he praised U.S. efforts to establish special duty-free areas, called Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), for Afghan exports. The zones would apply to the entire country and parts of Pakistan’s border areas.

“While ROZs are an important part of the economic-development process in Afghanistan, it will also make a significant contribution towards regional cooperation and prosperity as well as global security,” the ambassador told his guests, including Atiq Panjshiri, president of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce.

Chris Moore, deputy assistant secretary of state for trade policy and programs, stressed the necessity for Afghanistan to attract more foreign investment and increase its economic growth.

Claudio Lilienfeld, the U.S. deputy assistant trade representative for South Asia, added, “The government of Afghanistan can facilitate investment, but it is up to the business community to make this happen.”

Armenia mourning

The Armenian Embassy yesterday observed a day of mourning over the sudden death of Prime Minister Andranik Margarian, who suffered a heart attack over the weekend.

It opened a condolence book for the day but welcomed further expressions of sorrow by e-mail to [email protected] or by fax at 202/319-2982.

Mr. Margarian, who was 55, was appointed prime minister in May 2000 in the aftermath of an attack on the country’s parliament that killed eight legislators, including the previous prime minister, Vazgen Sarkisian. The gunmen who stormed parliament in an attempted coup were tried and sentenced to life terms in prison.

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

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