- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2009


Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafstrom says his country is ready for the task of leading the European Union for the next six months, adding that Sweden’s motto for its turn as president of the EU is “taking on the challenges.”

Sweden will not lack for a host of difficult challenges. The economic crisis is crippling much of Europe. Some EU leaders are reluctant to expand the union beyond the current 27 member nations, and issues involving the climate are becoming more complicated.

“There is a dire economic situation, and we will focus on getting economic stability in Eastern Europe and the Balkans,” Mr. Hafstrom told our correspondent Cassie Fleming last week. Sweden took on the presidency July 1.

Mr. Hafstrom pledged that Sweden will campaign for including more nations as members of the EU and combat so-called “enlargement fatigue.”

“We will focus on keeping the door open for new members, as enlargement is the success story of the EU. We are champions of enlargement,” he said.

Mr. Hafstrom said Sweden, which supports government programs to suppress energy consumption and believes the climate is warming, is also promoting what he called “green diplomacy.” He expressed support for the U.S. “cap-and-trade” bill passed by the House.


James Blanchard, a former ambassador, governor and congressman, is now taking new duties as chairman of the Meridian International Center, one of Washington’s premier foreign-policy institutions.

The Michigan Democrat praised President Obama’s foreign-policy goals as he took over the center, which is housed in a 1912 mansion in a leafy Northwest neighborhood.

“The United States has begun a new era of public diplomacy, where we are listening to the world more and placing a greater emphasis on global engagement,” he said.

Mr. Blanchard served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1975 to 1983 and as governor of Michigan from 1983 to 1991. President Clinton appointed him as ambassador to Canada in 1993. He served in Ottawa for three years.


Foreign visitors in Washington this week:


Duncan Wood of the Autonomous Institute of Technology in Mexico and Ana Maria Sanjuan of the Central University of Venezuela. They participate in a forum on energy and oil reform in the Western Hemisphere at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Ruby Gropas of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy in Greece, who discusses European politics and relations between the European Union and the United States in a forum hosted by the Southeast Europe Policy center at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


Genaro Arriagada, former minister of the presidency of Chile and one of Chile’s leading political commentators. He addresses the Inter-American Dialogue on the presidential election campaign, in which conservative Sebastian Pinera is leading center-left candidate Eduardo Frei, with socialist Marcos Enriquez Ominami trailing in third place.


Jose Antonio Crespo of the Center for the Investigation and Teaching of Economics in Mexico City, who discusses Mexico’s midterm elections and the future of democracy in a forum hosted by the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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

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