Monthly Archives: July 2009

FIDEL CASTRO: WHAT SHOULD BE DEMANDED FROM THE UNITED STATES ?

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WHAT SHOULD BE DEMANDED FROM THE UNITED STATES by FIDEL CASTRO

Fidel Castro

                                               

The meeting in Costa Rica didn’t, nor could it, lead to peace.  The people of Honduras are not at war, it’s just the perpetrators of the coup who are using weapons against the people.  One should demand that they cease their war against the people.  That meeting between Zelaya and the coup was only good for discrediting the constitutional president and wearing away at the energies of the Honduran people.

World public opinion learned about what was happening in that country through the images broadcast by international television, basically Telesur, which without losing a single second, faithfully broadcast each one of the events happening in Honduras, the speeches made and the unanimous agreements of the international bodies against the coup.

The world could watch the blows that rained down on men and women, the thousands of tear gas bombs thrown into the crowd, the rude gestures with weapons of war and the shots intended to intimidate, wound or murder citizens.

The idea that the US ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, didn’t know about or discouraged the coup is absolutely false.  He knew about it, just like the American military advisors who didn’t stop for a minute in their training of Honduran troops.

Today we know that the idea to promote a peace process from Costa Rica arose from the offices of the State Department, in order to contribute to the strengthening of the military coup.

The coup was conceived and organized by unscrupulous characters on the far-right, who were officials in the confidence of George W. Bush and had been promoted by him.

All of them, without exception, have a thick file of activities against Cuba.  Hugo Lorens, the ambassador in Honduras since the middle of 2008, is a Cuban-American.  He is part of the group of aggressive US ambassadors in Central America, made up of Robert Blau, the ambassador in El Salvador, Stephen McFarland in Guatemala and Robert Callahan in Nicaragua, all appointed by Bush in the months of July and August of 2008.

The four of them follow the line of Otto Reich and John Negroponte who, together with Oliver North, were responsible for the dirty war against Nicaragua and the death squads in Central America that cost the peoples of the region tens of thousands of lives.

Negroponte was Bush’s representative at the United Nations, the US intelligence tsar, and finally under-secretary of State.  Both he and Otto Reich, using different routes, were behind the coup in Honduras.  

The base at Soto Cano in that country, home to the Joint Task Force-Bravo of the US Armed Forces, is the main point of support for the coup d’état in Honduras.  

The United States has the dismal plan to create five more military bases around Venezuela, with the excuse of replacing the one in Manta, Ecuador.

The absurd adventure of the coup d’état in Honduras has created a really complicated situation in Central America that cannot be resolved with trickery, deceit and lies.

Every day we learn about new details in the US implication in that action that will also have serious repercussions in all of Latin America. 

The idea of a peace initiative from Costa Rica was transmitted to the president of that country from the State Department when Obama was in Moscow and he was declaring at a Russian university that the only president of Honduras was Manuel Zelaya.

The perpetrators of the coup were in a predicament.  The initiative transmitted to Costa Rica was seeking the goal of saving them.  It is clear that every day of delay has a cost for the constitutional president and tends to dilute the extraordinary international support he has received.  The Yankee manoeuvre does not increase the possibilities for peace, just the opposite, it decreases them, and the danger of violence grows, since the peoples of our America will never resign themselves to the fate that has been programmed for them.

With the Costa Rica meeting, the authority of the UN, the OAS and the other institutions that committed their support to the people of Honduras is being questioned. 

When Micheletti, the de facto president, yesterday announced that he is willing to step down from his position if Zelaya resigns, I already knew that the State Department and the military in the coup had agreed to replace him and send him again to Congress as part of the manoeuvre.

The only correct thing to do at this moment is to demand that the government of the United States ceases its intervention, stops giving military aid to the coup and pulls out its Task Force from Honduras. 

What they want to demand from the Honduran people in the name of peace is to deny all the principles for which all the nations of this hemisphere have fought. 

 “Respect for the rights of others means peace”, said Juárez.

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Syria: the key for peace in the Middle East by Professor Anton Caragea

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In only three month the US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell made two visits to Damascus prompting the world attention to the new place of Syria in the region.  What is the new role of Syria in Barrack Obama vision of peace for the Middle East?

 

 

Syria: an astonishing survival.

In 2003 Syria seemed to be on the brink of the abyss: a US lead invasion of Iraq has turn up side down the region, G. Bush placed Syria on the list of state to be attacked , in Lebanon US sponsored the anti-Syrian opposition in the  hope that will further isolate Syria.  The death of Hafez al Assad in 2000 and the ascension to power of a young leader, Bashar al Assad made the situation even more fragile. In this difficult climate of isolation, war in Iraq, US pressures and sanctions , Syria succeeded a remarkable transformation.

First step was made by bringing to power a generation of very effective , western educated leaders that transformed the country in just a few years: Dr.Mohsen Bilal,  a very efficient minister of  information that transformed the media landscape of the country offering open gates policy to private  newspapers and media channels  ,Wallid Al Moallem, Foreign Affairs Minister  of Syria succeed in promoting a new image of his country  tacking Syria out of the isolation  , Dr. Faissal Mqdad, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs supported this active and efficient diplomacy transforming Syria in a diplomatic Mecca in the last five years  supported in this efforts  by professional  diplomats like Walid Othman and other dedicated diplomats  and the charismatic  Mr. Saadala Agaa, Minister of Tourism, that made Syria a touristic power in the region busting countries revenues from tourism . This new team brought to power by President Bashar al Assad succeeded simultaneous in disengaging Syria from Lebanon, restoring diplomatic ties with Lebanon, sheltering 1, 5 million refugees from Iraq (a humanitarian crisis of never viewed scale), creating economic development of 5% percent per year, closing the border to Iraq for terrorist group and having an effective diplomacy in the region and developing connection with European Union. This mixture of powerful diplomacy, open society and strong democracy   made Syria a key for peace in the region. The assessment  of first nine year of Bashar al Assad in power is a strong  positive one.  

No peace without Syria.

An Arab diplomatic wisdom is saying that in Middle East could not be a war without Egypt and peace without Syria. The latest years offers a new meaning to this word of wisdom. Syria has proven to be a force for peace in the region and a fundamental actor: supporting Hezbollah in his resistance made Syria a part of the reconstruction of Lebanon security and peace and in may 2009 election when Hezbollah lost the Lebanese elections Syria supported the peaceful recognition of the election results and the creation of a unity government. Also the Syrian diplomatic campaign for Golan was a new success, even US announcing that Israel must relinquish the Golan Heights to rightful owner: Syria, in the peace processes. The open relation with Turkey, accepting Turkey mediation with Israel and the worming relation with Iraq and Golf States transformed Syria in the diplomatic rally point for France ( N. Sarcozy visit Damascus in 2008 , Bernard Kouchner , French foreign minister  in 2008 and 2009)   or for Qatar diplomacy. Even in 2008 Bashar al Assad was invited for 14 July celebration in France, an honor that only few have.    

Visit in Damascus for the eyes of Tel Aviv.

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The US diplomatic overture to Syria is destined no doubt to exercise pressure on Israel. The US-Israel relation are suffering from a diplomatic cold after the Barrack Obama speech in Cairo and US decision to pressure Israel for  a halt in settlements construction and to re-open dialogue with Palestinian Authority.  Until now Israeli government choose to ignore the joint US-European Union- Russia pressure for a sincere dialogue with Palestine Authority and for halting the settlements in territories occupied after 1967 war. The US decision to send a new ambassador in Damascus and European Union rapprochement with Syria, all indicate that Israel could not hope indefinitely to go against international community wishes.

Now G. Mitchell goes to Damascus with a solid agenda: peace talks, returning Golan Heights to Syria, Damascus aid in stabilizing Iraq, removing Syria from US black list etc.  Especially Washington is interested in having Syrian backing for a swift resolution of Iraq conflict to relinquish the US troops station there.  US are conscience that after the US army pull back Iraq will   descend in anarchy and havoc.  US are trying to support a second way: a Syrian model of open society, secular state, political equilibrium that will satisfy also Kurdish autonomy ambition and Sunni worries over a Shia controlled Iraq. This Syrian model in Iraq depends on Damascus support and is a valuable asset in US- Syria negotiation.  G. Mitchell is now in Damascus and already announced that what will be back.     

Now the question is if US has embarked only in a charmed offensive to worry Israel or really G. Mitchell found on the road to Damascus the light of a new policy for the region?

THE SYRIAN REVELATION by Vlad Hogea, vicepresident of Conservative Party

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THE   SYRIAN   REVELATION

Vlad Hogea

I spent a week in Syria, with a media delegation chaired by Professor Anton Caragea, director at the European Council on International Relation .

I knew some things about that part of the Levant especially that the Romanian-Syrian links have been extremely tight over the last 40 years: do not forget that 35.000 Syrians (3 of them – are being ministers in office in the Damascus Government along with many other officials!) studied at the universities in our country. Some of them got married with Romanian women and formed mixed families. Thousands of companies in Romania are owned by Syrian citizens. The Romanians built refineries and other important landmarks in Syria.  So we have in common things linked to our recent past, to continuous present and consequently there are the premises for a good cooperation in the future.
 I set out this journey hopping that Syria is a country to be discovered and I came back with the satisfaction of a true revelation. None of the stereotypes promoted by some journalists having the wrong information or bad intentions is valid. On the contrary, I have gladly traveled across a wonderful country from all the points of view. Syria has a long and glorious history (don’t forget that Damascus is the oldest capital in the world, and it remained like this until these very days) but it is also opened to the new and to the modern civilization (this is to be seen even in its infrastructure) in the context of political stability honorably represented by the President Bashar al Asad (the son and the spiritual heir of Hafes al Asad), the BAAS party and the National Progressive Front.
I saw the place where Saul of Tarsus got the message from God on the road to Damascus and became a Christian, being later known as Saint Paul. I entered the Umayyad Mosque (where lies the head of Saint John the Baptist also honored by the Islamic religion). I touched the Tomb of Saladin (the famous conqueror of Jerusalem and unifier of the Arabic tribes), but we didn’t miss the monasteries built to honor Saint Takla and Saint Serge and Bacchus (no connection with the god of wine). I visited the Azem palace, the Alep and Crac de Chevaliers fortress, the ancient vestiges from Ugarit, the magnificent area of Latakia, the Roman Amphitheatre from Bosra (much better preserved than the Colosseum in Rome) – the city where Mohammad met a Christian monk who told him that he would be the great prophet of a new religion. I went to Golan Heights, at Quneitra, the city completely destroyed (according to the conclusions of the international commission) by the Israeli troops in 1973 between the moment of signing the armistice and that of the partial retreat. Of course the official meetings at the ministerial and political level offered us the privilege to find out many interesting things about today’s realities and about Syria’s role as “part of the solution not of the problem in the region” (as stated by the president of the country).
We were welcomed and well treated everywhere. It’s a real friendship widely expressed by the Syrians. A friendship built and consolidated during decades of mutual trust, a friendship that nobody has the right to ignore or to denigrate.

Open Letter to the Obama Administration from Central and Eastern Europe

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Open Letter to the Obama Administration from Central and Eastern Europe

by Emil Constantinescu , Valdas Adamkus, Martin Butora, Pavol Demes, Lubos Dobrovsky, Matyas Eorsi, Istvan Gyarmati, Vaclav Havel, Rastislav Kacer, Sandra Kalniete, Karel Schwarzenberg, Michal Kovac, Ivan Krastev, Alexander Kwasniewski, Mart Laar, Kadri Liik, Janos Martonyi. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Adam Rotfeld, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Alexandr Vondra, Lech Walesa.

We have written this letter because, as Central and Eastern European (CEE) intellectuals and former policymakers, we care deeply about the future of the transatlantic relationship as well as the future quality of relations between the United States and the countries of our region. We write in our personal capacity as individuals who are friends and allies of the United States as well as committed Europeans.

Our nations are deeply indebted to the United States. Many of us know firsthand how important your support for our freedom and independence was during the dark Cold War years. U.S. engagement and support was essential for the success of our democratic transitions after the Iron Curtain fell twenty years ago. Without Washington’s vision and leadership, it is doubtful that we would be in NATO and even the EU today.

We have worked to reciprocate and make this relationship a two-way street. We are Atlantic voices within NATO and the EU. Our nations have been engaged alongside the United States in the Balkans, Iraq, and today in Afghanistan. While our contribution may at times seem modest compared to your own, it is significant when measured as a percentage of our population and GDP. Having benefited from your support for liberal democracy and liberal values in the past, we have been among your strongest supporters when it comes to promoting democracy and human rights around the world.

Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, however, we see that Central and Eastern European countries are no longer at the heart of American foreign policy. As the new Obama Administration sets its foreign-policy priorities, our region is one part of the world that Americans have largely stopped worrying about. Indeed, at times we have the impression that U.S. policy was so successful that many American officials have now concluded that our region is fixed once and for all and that they could “check the box” and move on to other more pressing strategic issues. Relations have been so close that many on both sides assume that the region’s transatlantic orientation, as well as its stability and prosperity, would last forever.

That view is premature. All is not well either in our region or in the transatlantic relationship. Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads and today there is a growing sense of nervousness in the region. The global economic crisis is impacting on our region and, as elsewhere, runs the risk that our societies will look inward and be less engaged with the outside world. At the same time, storm clouds are starting to gather on the foreign policy horizon. Like you, we await the results of the EU Commission’s investigation on the origins of the Russo-Georgian war. But the political impact of that war on the region has already been felt. Many countries were deeply disturbed to see the Atlantic alliance stand by as Russia violated the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, and the territorial integrity of a country that was a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace and the Euroatlantic Partnership Council -all in the name of defending a sphere of influence on its borders.

Despite the efforts and significant contribution of the new members, NATO today seems weaker than when we joined. In many of our countries it is perceived as less and less relevant – and we feel it. Although we are full members, people question whether NATO would be willing and able to come to our defense in some future crises. Europe’s dependence on Russian energy also creates concern about the cohesion of the Alliance. President Obama’s remark at the recent NATO summit on the need to provide credible defense plans for all Alliance members was welcome, but not sufficient to allay fears about the Alliance´s defense readiness. Our ability to continue to sustain public support at home for our contributions to Alliance missions abroad also depends on us being able to show that our own security concerns are being addressed in NATO and close cooperation with the United States

We must also recognize that America’s popularity and influence have fallen in many of our countries as well. Public opinions polls, including the German Marshall Fund’s own Transatlantic Trends survey, show that our region has not been immune to the wave of criticism and anti-Americanism that has swept Europe in recent years and which led to a collapse in sympathy and support for the United States during the Bush years. Some leaders in the region have paid a political price for their support of the unpopular war in Iraq. In the future they may be more careful in taking political risks to support the United States. We believe that the onset of a new Administration has created a new opening to reverse this trend but it will take time and work on both sides to make up for what we have lost.

In many ways the EU has become the major factor and institution in our lives. To many people it seems more relevant and important today than the link to the United States. To some degree it is a logical outcome of the integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU. Our leaders and officials spend much more time in EU meetings than in consultations with Washington, where they often struggle to attract attention or make our voices heard. The region’s deeper integration in the EU is of course welcome and should not necessarily lead to a weakening of the transatlantic relationship. The hope was that integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU would actually strengthen the strategic cooperation between Europe and America.

However, there is a danger that instead of being a pro-Atlantic voice in the EU, support for a more global partnership with Washington in the region might wane over time. The region does not have the tradition of assuming a more global role. Some items on the transatlantic agenda, such as climate change, do not resonate in the Central and Eastern European publics to the same extent as they do in Western Europe.

Leadership change is also coming in Central and Eastern Europe. Next to those, there are fewer and fewer leaders who emerged from the revolutions of 1989 who experienced Washington’s key role in securing our democratic transition and anchoring our countries in NATO and EU. A new generation of leaders is emerging who do not have these memories and follow a more “realistic” policy. At the same time, the former Communist elites, whose insistence on political and economic power significantly contributed to the crises in many CEE countries, gradually disappear from the political scene. The current political and economic turmoil and the fallout from the global economic crisis provide additional opportunities for the forces of nationalism, extremism, populism, and anti-Semitism across the continent but also in some our countries.

This means that the United States is likely to lose many of its traditional interlocutors in the region. The new elites replacing them may not share the idealism – or have the same relationship to the United States – as the generation who led the democratic transition. They may be more calculating in their support of the United States as well as more parochial in their world view. And in Washington a similar transition is taking place as many of the leaders and personalities we have worked with and relied on are also leaving politics.

And then there is the issue of how to deal with Russia. Our hopes that relations with Russia would improve and that Moscow would finally fully accept our complete sovereignty and independence after joining NATO and the EU have not been fulfilled. Instead, Russia is back as a revisionist power pursuing a 19th-century agenda with 21st-century tactics and methods. At a global level, Russia has become, on most issues, a status-quo power. But at a regional level and vis-a-vis our nations, it increasingly acts as a revisionist one. It challenges our claims to our own historical experiences. It asserts a privileged position in determining our security choices. It uses overt and covert means of economic warfare, ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests and to challenge the transatlantic orientation of Central and Eastern Europe.

We welcome the “reset” of the American-Russian relations. As the countries living closest to Russia, obviously nobody has a greater interest in the development of the democracy in Russia and better relations between Moscow and the West than we do. But there is also nervousness in our capitals. We want to ensure that too narrow an understanding of Western interests does not lead to the wrong concessions to Russia. Today the concern is, for example, that the United States and the major European powers might embrace the Medvedev plan for a “Concert of Powers” to replace the continent’s existing, value-based security structure. The danger is that Russia’s creeping intimidation and influence-peddling in the region could over time lead to a de facto neutralization of the region. There are differing views within the region when it comes to Moscow’s new policies. But there is a shared view that the full engagement of the United States is needed.

Many in the region are looking with hope to the Obama Administration to restore the Atlantic relationship as a moral compass for their domestic as well as foreign policies. A strong commitment to common liberal democratic values is essential to our countries. We know from our own historical experience the difference between when the United States stood up for its liberal democratic values and when it did not. Our region suffered when the United States succumbed to “realism” at Yalta. And it benefited when the United States used its power to fight for principle. That was critical during the Cold War and in opening the doors of NATO. Had a “realist” view prevailed in the early 1990s, we would not be in NATO today and the idea of a Europe whole, free, and at peace would be a distant dream.

We understand the heavy demands on your Administration and on U.S. foreign policy. It is not our intent to add to the list of problems you face. Rather, we want to help by being strong Atlanticist allies in a U.S.-European partnership that is a powerful force for good around the world. But we are not certain where our region will be in five or ten years time given the domestic and foreign policy uncertainties we face. We need to take the right steps now to ensure the strong relationship between the United States and Central and Eastern Europe over the past twenty years will endure.

We believe this is a time both the United States and Europe need to reinvest in the transatlantic relationship. We also believe this is a time when the United States and Central and Eastern Europe must reconnect around a new and forward-looking agenda. While recognizing what has been achieved in the twenty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it is time to set a new agenda for close cooperation for the next twenty years across the Atlantic.

Therefore, we propose the following steps:

First, we are convinced that America needs Europe and that Europe needs the United States as much today as in the past. The United States should reaffirm its vocation as a European power and make clear that it plans to stay fully engaged on the continent even while it faces the pressing challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the wider Middle East, and Asia. For our part we must work at home in our own countries and in Europe more generally to convince our leaders and societies to adopt a more global perspective and be prepared to shoulder more responsibility in partnership with the United States.

Second, we need a renaissance of NATO as the most important security link between the United States and Europe. It is the only credible hard power security guarantee we have. NATO must reconfirm its core function of collective defense even while we adapt to the new threats of the 21st century. A key factor in our ability to participate in NATO’s expeditionary missions overseas is the belief that we are secure at home. We must therefore correct some self-inflicted wounds from the past. It was a mistake not to commence with proper Article 5 defense planning for new members after NATO was enlarged. NATO needs to make the Alliance’s commitments credible and provide strategic reassurance to all members. This should include contingency planning, prepositioning of forces, equipment, and supplies for reinforcement in our region in case of crisis as originally envisioned in the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

We should also re-think the working of the NATO-Russia Council and return to the practice where NATO member countries enter into dialogue with Moscow with a coordinated position. When it comes to Russia, our experience has been that a more determined and principled policy toward Moscow will not only strengthen the West’s security but will ultimately lead Moscow to follow a more cooperative policy as well. Furthermore, the more secure we feel inside NATO, the easier it will also be for our countries to reach out to engage Moscow on issues of common interest. That is the dual track approach we need and which should be reflected in the new NATO strategic concept.

Third, the thorniest issue may well be America’s planned missile-defense installations. Here too, there are different views in the region, including among our publics which are divided. Regardless of the military merits of this scheme and what Washington eventually decides to do, the issue has nevertheless also become — at least in some countries — a symbol of America’s credibility and commitment to the region. How it is handled could have a significant impact on their future transatlantic orientation. The small number of missiles involved cannot be a threat to Russia’s strategic capabilities, and the Kremlin knows this. We should decide the future of the program as allies and based on the strategic plusses and minuses of the different technical and political configurations. The Alliance should not allow the issue to be determined by unfounded Russian opposition. Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region.

Fourth, we know that NATO alone is not enough. We also want and need more Europe and a better and more strategic U.S.-EU relationship as well. Increasingly our foreign policies are carried out through the European Union – and we support that. We also want a common European foreign and defense policy that is open to close cooperation with the United States. We are the advocates of such a line in the EU. But we need the United States to rethink its attitude toward the EU and engage it much more seriously as a strategic partner. We need to bring NATO and the EU closer together and make them work in tandem. We need common NATO and EU strategies not only toward Russia but on a range of other new strategic challenges.

Fifth is energy security. The threat to energy supplies can exert an immediate influence on our nations’ political sovereignty also as allies contributing to common decisions in NATO. That is why it must also become a transatlantic priority. Although most of the responsibility for energy security lies within the realm of the EU, the United States also has a role to play. Absent American support, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline would never have been built. Energy security must become an integral part of U.S.-European strategic cooperation. Central and Eastern European countries should lobby harder (and with more unity) inside Europe for diversification of the energy mix, suppliers, and transit routes, as well as for tough legal scrutiny of Russia’s abuse of its monopoly and cartel-like power inside the EU. But American political support on this will play a crucial role. Similarly, the United States can play an important role in solidifying further its support for the Nabucco pipeline, particularly in using its security relationship with the main transit country, Turkey, as well as the North-South interconnector of Central Europe and LNG terminals in our region.

Sixth, we must not neglect the human factor. Our next generations need to get to know each other, too. We have to cherish and protect the multitude of educational, professional, and other networks and friendships that underpin our friendship and alliance. The U.S. visa regime remains an obstacle in this regard. It is absurd that Poland and Romania — arguably the two biggest and most pro-American states in the CEE region, which are making substantial contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan — have not yet been brought into the visa waiver program. It is incomprehensible that a critic like the French anti-globalization activist Jose Bove does not require a visa for the United States but former Solidarity activist and Nobel Peace prizewinner Lech Walesa does. This issue will be resolved only if it is made a political priority by the President of the United States.

The steps we made together since 1989 are not minor in history. The common successes are the proper foundation for the transatlantic renaissance we need today. This is why we believe that we should also consider the creation of a Legacy Fellowship for young leaders. Twenty years have passed since the revolutions of 1989. That is a whole generation. We need a new generation to renew the transatlantic partnership. A new program should be launched to identify those young leaders on both sides of the Atlantic who can carry forward the transatlantic project we have spent the last two decades building in Central and Eastern Europe.

In conclusion, the onset of a new Administration in the United States has raised great hopes in our countries for a transatlantic renewal. It is an opportunity we dare not miss. We, the authors of this letter, know firsthand how important the relationship with the United States has been. In the 1990s, a large part of getting Europe right was about getting Central and Eastern Europe right. The engagement of the United States was critical to locking in peace and stability from the Baltics to the Black Sea. Today the goal must be to keep Central and Eastern Europe right as a stable, activist, and Atlanticist part of our broader community.

That is the key to our success in bringing about the renaissance in the Alliance the Obama Administration has committed itself to work for and which we support. That will require both sides recommitting to and investing in this relationship. But if we do it right, the pay off down the road can be very real. By taking the right steps now, we can put it on new and solid footing for the future.

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Valdas Adamkus

Former President of the Republic of Lithuania

Martin Butora

Former Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States

Emil Constantinescu

Former President of the Republic of Romania

Pavol Demes

Former Minister of International Relations and Advisor to the President, Slovak Republic

Lubos Dobrovsky

Former Defense Minister of the Czech Republic, former Ambassador to Russia

Matyas Eorsi

Former Secretary of State of the Hungarian MFA

Istvan Gyarmati

Ambassador, President of the International Centre for Democratic Transition in Budapest

Vaclav Havel

Former President of the Czech Republic

Rastislav Kacer

Former Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States

Sandra Kalniete

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia

Karel Schwarzenberg

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic

Michal Kovac

Former President of the Slovak Republic

Ivan Krastev

Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria

Alexander Kwasniewski

Former President of the Republic of Poland

Mart Laar

Former Prime Minister of Estonia

Kadri Liik

Director of the International Centre for Defense Studies in Tallinn, Estonia

Janos Martonyi

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hungary

Janusz Onyszkiewicz

Former Vice-president of the European Parliament, former Defense Minister, Poland

Adam Rotfeld

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland

Alexandr Vondra

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, Czech Republic

Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Former President of the Republic Latvia

Lech Walesa

Former President of the Republic of Poland

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIDEL CASTRO: THE HONDURAS COUP D`ETAT- A SUICIDAL MISTAKE

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Reflections by Comrade Fidel

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A SUICIDAL MISTAKE

 

 

Three days ago, in the evening of Thursday 25th, I wrote in my Reflections: “We do not know what will happen tonight or tomorrow in Honduras, but the courageous behavior adopted by Zelaya will go down in history.”

 

Two paragraphs before I had indicated that: “The situation that might result from whatever occurs in that country will be a test for the OAS and the current US administration.”

 

The prehistoric Inter-American institution met in Washington the following day and in a halfhearted and spiritless resolution promised to immediately make the necessary efforts to bring about harmony between the contending parties; that is, a negotiation between the putschists and the Constitutional President of Honduras.

 

The high ranking military chief who was still in command of the Honduran Armed Forces was making public statements different from the President’s position while recognizing his authority in a merely formal way.

 

The putschists needed barely anything else from the OAS. They couldn’t care less for the presence of a large number of international observers who had traveled to that country to bear witness to a referendum and who had been talking with Zelaya until late into the night. Today, before dawn, they launched on the President’s home about 200 well-trained and equipped professional troops who roughly set aside the members of the Guard of Honor and kidnapped Zelaya –who was sleeping at the moment– taking him to an air base and forcibly putting him on a plane to Costa Rica.

 

At 8:30 a.m. we learned from Telesur of the assault on the Presidential House and the kidnapping. The President was unable to attend the initial activity related to the referendum that was to take place this Sunday and his whereabouts were unknown.

 

The official television channel was silenced. They wanted to prevent the early spread of the news of the treacherous action through Telesur and Cubavision Internacional, which were reporting the events. Therefore, they first suspended the broadcasting centers and then cut off electricity to the entire country. At the moment, the Supreme Court and the Congress involved in the conspiracy had yet to make public the decisions that justified the plot. They first carried out the indescribable military coup and then legalized it.

 

The people woke up to a fait accompli and started to react with growing indignation. Zelaya’s destination was unknown. Three hours later the people’s reaction was such that we could see women punching soldiers with their fists and the latter’s weapons falling off their hands as they were nervous and confused. At the beginning, their movements resembled a strange combat with ghosts; later, they tried to cover Telesur’s cameras with their hands and nervously aimed their guns at the reporters. Sometimes, when the people advanced the troops stepped back. At this point, armored vehicles carrying cannons and machineguns were sent in as the people fearlessly discussed with the crews of the armored vehicles. The people’s reaction was amazing.

 

Approximately at 2:00 in the afternoon, a tamed majority in Congress –in coordination with the putschists—toppled Zelaya, the Constitutional President of Honduras, and appointed a new head of State announcing to the world that the former had resigned and showing a forged signature. A few minutes later, from an airport in Costa Rica, Zelaya related everything that had happened and categorically refuted the news about his resignation. The plotters had placed themselves in a ridiculous situation in the eyes of the world.

 

Many other things happened today. Cubavision took all of its time to expose the coup and keep our people informed.

 

Some events were purely fascist in nature and even if expected they are still astonishing.

 

Honduran Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas was the putschists’ main target, second only to Zelaya. Another detachment was sent to her residence. She was brave and determined, and she acted quickly; she did not waste time and started denouncing the coup in every way possible. Our ambassador contacted Patricia to learn about the situation; other ambassadors did likewise. At a given moment, she asked the diplomatic representatives of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba to meet with her since she was being fiercely hounded and required diplomatic protection. Our ambassador, who from the first moments was authorized to offer the minister all the constitutional and legal support, proceeded to visit her in her own residence.

 

When the diplomats were already in her house, the putschist command sent Major Oceguera to put her under arrest. The diplomats stood between the woman and the officer and claimed she was under diplomatic protection and could only be moved accompanied by them. Oceguera discussed with them in a respectful fashion. A few minutes later, 12 or 15 men in uniform and covering their faces with ski masks rushed into the house. The three ambassadors embraced Patricia but the masked men using force managed to separate the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan ambassadors; Hernandez held her so strongly by one arm that the masked men dragged them both to a van and drove to an air base where they finally separated him and took her away. As he was there in custody, Bruno, who had news of the kidnapping called him to the cell phone; one of the masked men tried to violently snatch the phone out of his hands and the Cuban ambassador, who had already been punched in Patricia’s home, shouted: “Don’t push me, cojones!” I don’t remember if the term was ever used by Cervantes, but there is no doubt that ambassador Juan Carlos Hernandez has enriched our language.

 

Later, he was abandoned in a road far from the Cuban mission not before being warned that something worse could happen to him if he talked. “Nothing can be worse than death,” he answered with dignity, “and still I’m not afraid of you.” Then people from the area helped him to return to the embassy and from there he immediately called Bruno again.

 

There is no way to negotiate with that putschist high command. They must be asked to abdicate while other younger officers, uninvolved with the oligarchy, take charge of the military command; otherwise, there will never be in Honduras a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

 

There is no hope for the cornered and isolated putschists if the problem is faced with determination.

 

Even Mrs. Clinton stated this afternoon that Zelaya is the only President of Honduras and the Honduran putschists can’t even breathe without the support of the United States of America.

 

Zelaya, a man who was in his pyjamas just a few hours ago, will be recognized by the world as the only Constitutional President of Honduras.

 

 

 

Fidel Castro Ruz

June 28, 2009