Many ambassadors who reach the zenith of their careers by making it to Washington harbor dreams of staying here in a different incarnation. Life is pleasant, one hangs on to important new friends and the perks include cocktails, canape comforts and long walks along the Potomac. Some join international institutions such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. Others go into business or academia. Jerzy Kozminski, Poland's ambassador to Washington, has found the perfect fit, an outlet for his sense of purpose and mission to forge bonds between his country and the Western world. He will join the board and become president and CEO of the newly formed Polish-American Freedom Foundation when he concludes his present responsibilities in February.
Nine years after the Polish-American Enterprise Fund was started by the U.S. government, its chairman, John P. Birkelund, announced the launching of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation to carry forward the work of the soon-to-disappear enterprise fund. According to Birkelund, chairman and director, and pursuant to an agreement approved by Congress and the administration, the new and more broadly aimed foundation will be dedicated to strengthening civil society in Poland--as well as continuing the promotion of private business--through support of economic reform, development of nongovernmental organizations and assisting the government in fostering local enterprise.
The new foundation will be funded by proceeds from the liquidation of the old one. Of the $262 million in U.S. grants to the enterprise fund, $120 million will be returned to the U.S. Treasury and the rest will endow the new foundation. Income earned on the endowment will go to programs of grants, fellowships, awards and loans.
The old fund was established in May 1990 as an experiment in foreign assistance and was governed and managed by private executives and Polish experts to encourage private sector development through loans and investments in emerging small businesses in Poland. There are 11 such enterprise funds receiving U.S. government funding with total committed assets of $1.4 billion.
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit spoke eloquently Friday about the profound changes affecting his country and its strategic alliances at a luncheon hosted by the Foreign Policy Association at the Metropolitan Club in New York.
He addressed the diverse identity of Turkey as part European, but also Balkan, Eastern Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Caucasian and Asian. The Cold War left Turkey cut off from its natural partners, but it is now pursuing ties in Europe as well as Asia while embarking on various reforms, he said. He described a new banking law and amendments to the constitution to facilitate privatization and allow foreign investors to seek international arbitration of disputes. He said the World Bank had judged Turkey one of the 10 most promising emerging economies.
Ecevit expressed Turkey's gratitude for the help and support it got during its hour of need after an earthquake that hit Aug. 17 left more than 15,000 dead and many more homeless. He thanked the government and people of Greece for rushing to Turkey's aid, and for "their sincere emotions." Turkey reciprocated "in a twisted, most undesirable" situation "when another earthquake struck Athens only a few weeks later," he said. "The almost simultaneous tremors and tragedies that shook the two neighboring countries reminded us that we share the same fate in many ways."
The prime minister took questions after lunch on various issues, among them Greek-Turkish relations and reports that Athens has removed its objection to Turkey's accession to the European Union. "It is not very certain yet. But certainly the dialogue has started between our Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and his Greek counterpart Mr. [George] Papandreou. They can pave the way to a psychological atmosphere that will be more conducive to addressing sensitive issues. I am hopeful about the new dialogue but we must not attach too much importance to it. . . . I am not sure Greece will not attach strings to this," he said.
On the Kurdish quest for autonomy, Ecevit said there are more Albanians living in Turkey than in Kosovo, and more Turks of Bosnian descent than the population of Bosnia, and so if the government gave in to one group, the country "will end up in dismembering itself completely." He emphasized, however, the need to speed up development in the depressed areas of southeastern Turkey, where he blamed a feudal system among people of Arab and Kurdish origin for dismal economic conditions.