Never at a loss for special effects, Ambassador Boudewijn J. van Eenennaam of the Netherlands kicked off his country's six-month presidency of the European Union last week by booting a soccer ball into a goal representing the 25-nation group.
About 800 guests gathered in a foyer near the courtyard of the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday to watch the lanky Dutchman send the ball toward the symbolic targets of the union's May 1 enlargement by 10 countries, the European economy, security and foreign relations -- all represented by images from a computerized projector.
E.U. countries hold the presidency in rotating six-month terms, chairing meetings and doing their best to put their stamp on the bloc's policies, though the position's authority is largely symbolic.
The previous week, van Eenennaam spoke at the National Press Club about his country's priorities for the presidency, which begins at a time of troubled transatlantic relations. His title: "Europe and the U.S.: Back to Back or Shoulder to Shoulder?"
In addition to dealings with the United States, the Dutch will preside over the E.U. nitty-gritty of integrating the 10 new member states, moving the draft European Constitution toward final adoption, questions of possible accession talks with Turkey, Middle East issues and the fight against terrorism.
Moving Over to the OAS
While many ambassadors will use the coming quiet and reception-free summer days to fly home and relax, Costa Rica's veteran chief of mission, Jaime Daremblum, will be digging in here to prepare himself for broader responsibilities.
In mid-September, he will begin work in the majestic marbled halls of the Organization of American States on Constitution Avenue as senior adviser to Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echeverria, the group's newly elected secretary general.
"It will be a new challenge," Daremblum said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I really look forward to this because this job will give me the opportunity to do what I have done as ambassador, but with a wider hemispheric dimension."
He is well acquainted with the man he'll work for. In 1998, it was Rodriguez, then Costa Rica's president, who named him ambassador to Washington.
In his new job, Daremblum will be the liaison between the secretary general and Washington -- official and unofficial -- including Congress, the White House and research groups. It's an initial commitment for five years. Daremblum and his family will be moving out of the official Costa Rican residence and into an apartment in a building facing the Watergate.
New Envoy From Madrid
It's not official yet, but Spain's pick for its new ambassador here is Carlos Westendorp y Cabeza, a former foreign minister and architect of his country's 1986 entry into the European Community, now the E.U.
He will have the delicate task of smoothing relations between Washington and Madrid following the new socialist government's decision to pull Spain's troops out of Iraq.
The new leadership in Madrid has pledged to maintain good relations with the world's only superpower and says that its withdrawal from an armed conflict that was highly unpopular among the Spanish public will not undermine its commitment to help the United States in the global fight against terrorism.
Westendorp, a lawyer by training, joined Spain's diplomatic corps in 1966. In addition to serving as foreign minister, he has been Spain's permanent representative to the European Community and a member of the European Parliament. His foreign posts also include Brazil and the Netherlands.
Service Club for Baghdad?
The Lions Club has given itself a new mission: helping Iraqis receive adequate health care.
It is time for service-minded individuals to chip in where "the government just can't seem to get started," says Emory Harmon, 87, a retired postmaster from Greenbelt and Lions Club member since 1955.
Harmon has faxed Iraq's ambassador-designate, Rend Rahim Francke, to propose establishing a Lions Club chapter in Baghdad. Harmon said the president of Lions Clubs International, Clement F. Kusiak, of Linthicum, Md., has also sent a fax promoting the idea to Iraq's Washington embassy from the headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.
"Rich individuals get together and they can do things for the people over there who are suffering," Harmon said. "They help the elderly get hearing aids and eye care." He said he is not personally interested in going to Iraq, but is excited at the prospect of having "Lionism" do its thing for the Iraqi population.
Countries run by dictators are never appropriate places for such clubs, he said, but now Iraq is free and wealthy Iraqis can contribute to soothing the pains of their compatriots.